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  • Writer's picturegraeme

Lockdown reflection Day 8: How lockdown plays out, weeks 1 through 8

It seems that some people need to be reminded again why lockdown is important and what it looks like.

Here’s the pattern of lockdown in every country that’s done lockdown:

Week 1: Lockdown takes time to actually properly start. This was true everywhere, from China to Italy, from New Zealand to Spain. It is true here in South Africa. Some people couldn’t lockdown on the deadline, some people refused to, and some others didn’t take it seriously. Also, because of the lag time due to the 5-14 day incubation period no real discernible change in infections take place.

Week 2: Still no real change to the infections graph - it was going up and it keeps going up. For countries that went into lockdown late this is a steep upward curve; for those that did it early it is less steep. Either way, the social media chatter is about whether it is worth it. People who are feeling the economic pain (which is a lot of people) get angry that the economy is being hurt so badly by lockdown and start demanding for it to be ended.

Week 3: Lockdown is extended. But now the peak of infections begins. This is a scary week because the death rate starts to climb. Again, remember, you have to wait up to 14 days for the disease to show symptoms. For some people, this then looks like a mild flu or cold, and a few days later they’re fine. For others, it is like a severe flu and worse, but after a week they’re fine again. It’s the 10% or so that need hospitalisation that we are doing this for. If you’re fine or think you’ll be fine even if you get Covid-19, that’s great. Lockdown is for the 10% who could die. And the people who do get so sick that they need hospitalisation, they can take 3 weeks to recover. And if they don’t recover, they take about as long to die. So week 3 is when we start to see the hospitals filling up.

Week 4 and 5: The rate of new infections begins to slow. Because LOCKDOWN WORKS. The only nation that deliberately took a policy of herd immunity (ie let everyone get the disease as soon as possible and we’ll deal with the consequences and accept some deaths) was the UK. They changed their minds after just two weeks, but look at their numbers if you want to know what that looks like. The other country that has fought against lockdown is the USA. Technically, it’s Trump and many of the Republican States. Most Democrat led states locked down (sort of) a week ago. But it doesn’t help if only some parts of your country lockdown and others don’t. If you want to know what would happen if we only had a partial lockdown, look at America’s numbers.

So, back to weeks 4 and 5: if everyone has been locking down, then new infections begin to slow, but deaths keep rising. Hospitals are now at the peak. If they can’t handle it, it is a nightmare like Italy has been experiencing. If your country locked down in time, the hospitals should just about be able to cope. That’s what “flattening the curve” was meant to do.

Weeks 6 and 7: A massive drop off in new infections happens. The death rate starts to slow. Recoveries start climbing, and this is the best news because these people will have immunity.

Remember that lockdown won’t finish with an announcement that everyone can go back to normal. It will be a slow easy of restrictions. Some people can go back to work. Those who have recovered from actually having it are safest to go back first. Social distancing will still be advised. Travel restrictions will still be in place - especially internationally. And especially to and from countries still dealing with this. Don’t expect to be able to visit the USA anytime this year, for example.

So, please. If you’re feeling like you “need to get out”, don’t. If you’re feeling like lockdown is not worth it, it is. If you’re feeling like you’d rather just take the chance, don’t. If you feel that the cure is worse than the disease, it isn’t. Hold the line. Stay the course. Stay at home.

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