Countries that have learned to adapt to Covid-19

More and more countries accept the scenario that Covid-19 cannot be wiped out and encourage people to gradually transition to a state of living with the virus.

The UK has ended all anti-epidemic and social distancing measures since July. Germany allows vaccinated people to freely travel without isolation. Italy dropped the requirement to wear masks outdoors. The mall in Singapore reopened, and Israel plans to welcome visitors in small groups in September.

Nearly 20 months after the Covid-19 outbreak, governments around the world are encouraging people to learn how to live with nCoV. Some countries that once pursued the “no Covid” model are rethinking their strategies, including Australia.

Gyms in Singapore were allowed to operate normally in July, within the framework of the strategy of living with Covid-19.  Photo: NYT.

Gyms in Singapore were reopened in July, part of a strategy to live with Covid-19. Photo: NOW.

European countries, rich in vaccines, hope a large-scale vaccination campaign is the ticket to reopening their economies and keeping the number of severe cases low. People who have had enough vaccines within 6 months in Germany can dine in restaurants without rapid antigen testing, have normal meetings and travel without isolation for 14 days.

A similar story is playing out in Italy. People now only have to wear masks when entering shops or crowded places. However, many people still have not given up the habit of wearing masks when leaving the house. “My children are always complaining, saying I’m vaccinated and don’t need a mask anymore, but I’m used to it,” Marina Castro, living in Rome, shared.

The UK is the most aggressive country in the strategy of living with the virus. On July 19, the country ended all restrictive measures despite the number of Delta mutant infections still at a worrying level, especially in the young population. All bans on meetings and regulations on wearing masks are lifted. People filled restaurants, pubs and football fields on weekends like never before during a pandemic.

Without a legal corridor, British officials look to “personal responsibility” in each citizen to protect themselves and their families from the virus. Health Minister Sajid Javid in June emphasized that Britain must “learn to live” with nCoV, although public opinion surveys show that many people want a more careful and gradual reopening route.

Meanwhile, New Zealand persists with its “no Covid” strategy. Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at New Zealand’s University of Otago, worries that countries that take shortcuts and open early are “playing a dangerous gamble” by placing unvaccinated populations at risk of infection.

“I’m surprised that some governments decide that they understand well enough about how the virus works in the community and then accept it,” said New Zealand’s Covid-19 strategic adviser.

New Zealand also announced in August its intention to reopen, but is determined to take it step-by-step, developing a plan while considering the situation of infection and the rate of vaccination. They remain loyal to long-term social distancing measures. In a survey at the end of July of 1,800 participants, about 90% predicted that life would not return to normal even if they were vaccinated because of the virus still many things are not clear.

One of the important questions that has not been clarified by science is the post-Covid-19 syndrome. Many people who have recovered from nCoV infection are no longer positive for the virus, but still suffer from many health sequelae. Experts say that the world cannot “live with Covid-19” like with the flu, because the level of harm to health varies greatly. The length of time the body maintains immunity thanks to vaccines and resistance to new strains is still very vague.

The pandemic is becoming more complicated when most developing countries do not have enough vaccines to protect their people, opening the risk of additional strains with higher infectious capacity.

The Delta mutation has put the US on alert, after a successful initial vaccination campaign. The plan to restore normalcy in the summer did not come true, when a series of states increased the number of infections and deaths, forcing health authorities to reinstate some recommendations on masks.

Restaurants in the city of Tal Aviv operate normally because Israel eases Covid-19 prevention measures, focusing on severe cases instead of infections.  Photo: AFP.

A restaurant reopened in Tel Aviv, Israel in August. Photo: AFP.

Some countries, although not suddenly changing their anti-epidemic strategies, have also begun to see the easing of blockade and distance as a necessary part of post-pandemic recovery.

People are encouraged to shift their attention from limiting infections to minimizing severe illness and deaths. Tough restrictive measures are still applied depending on the epidemic situation, but the general sentiment is still to reopen soon.

Israel pursues a model of “soft suppression” thanks to high national vaccination rates. However, when the number of infections spiked again because of the Delta mutation, Israel accepted the re-imposition of the regulation of wearing masks outdoors. The government is continuously promoting vaccines as the main protection tool, with consideration of a plan to give people a fourth booster shot.

“It needs to be clear to the public that we are going to see a lot of cases, but that’s part of the plan,” said Professor Dale Fisher, head of the National Committee for Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health Singapore. , identify.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Singaporeans have been monitoring each and every day information about each confirmed case of nCoV.

When the number of infections hit double digits for the first time, an atmosphere of anxiety once enveloped the country. New infections still appear, even though Singapore has closed its borders and applied strict infection prevention measures.

“Our people are tired of this battle. Everyone is asking: When and how will the pandemic end,” said the group of ministers responsible for Singapore’s anti-epidemic strategy. on people’s psychology in June, when announcing the roadmap for living with Covid-19.

Singapore over the past two months has been trying to learn how to adapt to the pandemic step by step. The focus of surveillance shifted from counting cases to severe cases, the number of cases requiring intensive care beds and breathing tubes. The suspension of some services such as restaurants and eateries was described by Commerce Minister Gan Kim Yong as a temporary “stopper” towards the end goal.

“You need to give people the mentality of making progress slowly, instead of waiting for the day to open all at once and everyone goes crazy,” Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung emphasized.

Trung Nhan (Follow New York Times)

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