What are we going to live on? That is the question that many people ask themselves every day when the possibility of quarantining the coronavirus is mentioned, for longer than has been established so far.
Some voices speak of the fact that in 120 days, or 4 months to be exact, the coronavirus will have been controlled globally and everything will be “back to normal”.
But will everything really return “to normal”?, will countries be able to get back on track?, and what is even better, will countries be able to support their inhabitants who, forced by circumstances, must stay at home without being able to go to work?
It is curious that a world of which all people feel “proud” because of the advances that are achieved day by day at the scientific level, should be brought to its knees by a disease that in general terms, is a simple flu that can kill a person in a matter of days.
Although to tell the truth, the flu should never be underestimated, since it is the most common human suffering ever, and that despite all efforts made so far, medical science has never been able to control it.
The most that medicine has achieved is to develop products and substances that mitigate the symptoms of flus or colds, but nothing else.
In short, every harmless flu we suffer, simply lives inside our body as long as it should, until it completes its life cycle, dies, and leaves us in peace until the next occasion.
And now, in the face of the world famous Coronavirus, the only apparent solution that exists is isolation, the confinement of human beings in their homes, without contact of any nature with other people, as an effort to prevent the Coronavirus from continuing to spread throughout this, not so great world when it comes to diseases of rapid transmission.
On this issue of isolation, the great example of quarantine – so far – is China. On 23 January, after noting the scale of the problem they were facing and that the Coronavirus outbreak was out of control, the Chinese Government closed the city of Wuhan. Literally. As of 10 a.m. that same day, all public transport in the city was suspended. The Wuhan airport, railway station and subway were closed and residents were prohibited from leaving the city without permission from the authorities, but this, unfortunately, did not work.
The government’s warning prompted an exodus from Wuhan and an estimated 300,000 people out of the estimated 11 million people living in the city left before the 10 a.m. closure and with it, the virus, which could have been contained in China if people had listened to the guidelines of the health authorities, simply found the best way to get out of the country and cross the borders without major obstacles.
As a result, the next day, January 24th, the government closed 15 more cities and put the brakes on the entire country taking advantage of the fact that January 25th was the Lunar New Year, one of those great annual festivities that cripple the country’s economy.
In this way, the Chinese authorities divided the cities, towns and rural areas into compartments and closed everything down completely. They closed off the main roads with multi-meter fences and checkpoints to move from one neighborhood to another if necessary.
In Wuhan, government medical teams went house to house in the city to check on tenants, detect those who were infected and confine them to wards and quarantine centers. In other areas of the country, the measures were less severe, and although much of the country was compartmentalized and social life in large areas collapsed, technological means made it possible to maintain economic and working life, despite the difficulties that these kinds of measures represent.
If we can’t go out to work, what are we going to live on?
In a way, China was able to maintain economic life in the midst of the disaster, although not at a high enough level for the country not to slide into recession. Therefore, since the end of February, China began to restart the economy in the less affected regions, although without completely easing the social distancing measures. Wuhan and the rest of Hubei Province are still in detention despite the fact that there were very large areas of these places that had not recorded a new case of Coronavirus for almost a month.
Finally, the strict measures of Wuhan and Hubei are gradually being lifted, and in this case, the strategy being carried out by China of maintaining the compartmentalisation of areas, but making the passage of people within cities more flexible, seems to be producing results. In the same way, the province of Hubei is beginning to introduce the measures that were followed in the rest of the country by allowing movements in the streets and monitoring citizens with the health codes that each person must carry in order to be closely monitored by health agencies.
In other words, the Chinese Government is allowing a return to daily life while maintaining the infrastructure that allows the isolation of neighborhoods, cities and regions. The idea is that, if the return to normal life were to revive the epidemic, it could be easy to block such outbreaks in very localized areas and thus ensure that the post-quarantine recovery processes do not have to be interrupted all at once.
But this is in China. In the rest of the world it is quite difficult to know what will happen in the face of quarantine. We have seen how Italy has been increasing the aggressiveness of its restrictions for weeks now as the Coronavirus outbreak shows signs of growing as well, and in Spain a tougher quarantine than the surrounding countries has been put in place as a hope for the epidemic to slow down in the coming days. The way in which the virus behaves in the face of these measures will depend not only on the depth of the crisis, but also on the speed of the health, social and economic recovery of each country.
The only thing that is certain is that the virus has not yet reached its highest peak, and this only indicates that it does not seem reasonable to expect a rapid recovery, nor a return to daily life in a simple way. And in the face of this not very flattering panorama, once again the question arises, and what are we going to live on?