Can you imagine going through another circuit breaker? Where we can’t eat at coffee shops, drink bubble tea, or visit our friends?
Reader: I managed to expel that part of my life from my memory, why are you bringing it all back?
Don’t forget about the McDonald’s closure too.
Reader: STOP IT.
In the last couple of months, many countries have begun lifting lockdown restrictions, and things seemed to be getting back to normal.
But Covid-19 doesn’t want things to get back to normal. Covid-19 enjoys our attention.
Unlike SARS, which magically disappeared, Covid-19 seems determined to stick around and infect as many people as it can.
Since lockdowns take a massive toll on the economy, countries are hesitant to go back to them, and citizens don’t want to be locked up in their houses either.
This is why some countries are having its worst fear realised – a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
The chart that plots the number of coronavirus cases in Iran is pretty much a visual representation of a second wave.
Infections spiked in April, and the country was recording nearly 3,000 new cases every day.
The situation seemed to improve in late April and early May, where the number of infections dropped to below 1,000 a day.
As many countries would, Iran started easing some restrictions, such as reopening restaurants, cafes, museums, and shopping malls, as well as allowing travel to resume between different provinces.
Then, shit got acquainted with the fan.
The country now has an average of 2,500 new cases every day, with a high of 3,574 on 4 June.
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Increased social interaction may not be the only reason for the surge, however.
As Iran’s chief epidemiologist at the country’s health ministry, Mohammad-Mehdi Gouya, explained: “The main reason for the rising numbers is that we have started identifying [infected people] who have no or mild symptoms.”
They are now doing one test for every 59, whereas it was one for every 380 two months ago.
What’s particularly scary is that the number of Covid-19 deaths has been steadily increasing since late May.
Israel may not have nearly as many cases as Iran, but the country is certainly experiencing a second wave.
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Israel had a high of 765 cases in the beginning of April, and averaged around 400 to 500 infections a day.
Then infections slowed down. In fact, they nearly ceased altogether. As you can see, there’s a huge dip in Covid-19 cases in May, with less than 100 cases for most of the month.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even said in April that the country had succeeded in combating the virus, setting an example for the world “in safeguarding life and blocking the outbreak of the pandemic.”
But then, weeks after reopening restaurants, malls, and beaches, the country is now seeing a 50-fold surge in new coronavirus cases, reported CNN.
As a result, Israel started closing the venues it opened so recently, with Netanyahu announcing that gyms, pools, event halls, pubs and more would shutter indefinitely.
Saudi Arabia is one of the few unfortunate countries whose second wave is much worse than its first.
The peak of its first wave occurred in late May, where at least 2,000 new cases were being reported every day.
After daily infections dropped to around 1,500, the country reduced curfew times, allowed prayers in mosques, and even permitted domestic travel to resume, reported CBS News.
Now, the country is seeing 3,000 to 4,000 cases a day, and deaths are steadily rising as well – 2,059 deaths were recorded on Wednesday (8 July).
South Korea was praised for its response to a massive rise in cases in March, as they managed to control the situation with widespread testing and contact tracing.
After recording zero new cases on 30 April, officials announced two months later that the country was experiencing a second wave of infections.
The country has recorded an average of 50 cases a day in the last couple of weeks.
It’s important to note that South Korea never imposed a full lockdown on its citizens. It simply closed businesses and carried out widespread testing and contact tracing.
In early June, public institutions like churches, museums, and art galleries had to close again due to the upsurge in new cases.
While China had the highest number of coronavirus cases at one point, infections had drastically slowed due to strict lockdowns and widespread testing, and ceased entirely from the end of April.
Some, however, had questioned whether the country was under-reporting its numbers, due to the sudden, steep decline.
Then, in June, after 55 days of zero locally-transmitted infections, Beijing had a fresh cluster of coronavirus cases that has since infected more than 300 people.
Some attribute the surge to increased social interaction, as school and workplaces reopened and businesses resumed operations.
Others linked the outbreak to seafood or meat, after traces of the virus were reportedly found on a chopping board used by a seller of imported salmon at a market in the city.
Fortunately, the city’s contact tracing efforts have managed to contain the outbreak, and infections have decreased.
Beijing announced on Saturday (4 July) that it will lift travel restrictions on most residents.
If you take a look at the total number of Covid-19 cases in the US in the last few months, you’d see one long wave of infections, not two.
But this doesn’t really tell the whole story.
At the start of the outbreak, states like New York had a much higher number of cases, with an average of 8,000 to 10,000 new infections every day.
Things have improved since then.
In the last few weeks, New York has recorded under 1,000 cases with a few exceptions; a sign that the outbreak is being contained.
On the other hand, states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas – states that had few cases at the beginning of the outbreak – are now having a spike in infections.
The lifting of stay-at-home orders are part of the reason for the surge, but there are other factors in play, according to New Scientist.
A lack of social and health infrastructure, slowdown in testing rates, and individual risk-taking behaviour are to blame.
As you know, many Americans refuse to wear a mask because they view it as an infringement on their freedom.
These factors, along with reopening the country, have led to the steep increase in these states.
Any Country Can Have a Second Wave
You probably noticed a common denominator above: infections increased when restrictions were lifted.
This is why the Singapore government was so hesitant to move to Phase 2, and why it may be a long, long time before we shift to Phase 3. (Though one has to question why we’re having an election now, given how much social contact it requires).
As Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday (7 July), Singapore has not yet experienced a second wave of infections, but there is a real risk of it happening in the future.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong also noted that some countries that exited from their lockdowns have had to reimpose them due to a fresh wave of cases.
If this does happen, the government may implement a “localised restriction measure” for a particular area that has a cluster of cases.
The authorities also plan to test more extensively and place more contacts on quarantine.
“Hopefully with all of these measures, we can control the infection effectively without having to impose another nationwide circuit breaker”, Wong said.
Singaporeans may not enjoy abiding by Covid-19 restrictions, but we’ll certainly do anything it takes to avoid another circuit breaker.
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