The governments across the world should prioritize human health (and lives) over economic health even from an economic standpoint alone.
The only sane approach to fight the spread of the COVID-19 is that the governments across the world should impose lockdowns, the nature of which should be not only ‘full’ and ‘complete’ but also prolonged. These lockdowns should continue until either the COVID-19 stops spreading completely or vaccine is available.
The World Health Organization (WHO) officials have been repeatedly pointing out that ‘complete lockdown’ — together with testing every suspected case, and treating and isolating the confirmed COVID-19 patients — is the only option available to the governments to contain the spread of the disease.
The cities/countries that have imposed early lockdowns have been experiencing lesser cases of COVID-19 infected patients than those that failed to do so. Saudi Arabia is an ideal example of early lockdown. Saudi Arabia’s restrictive-measures — which went as far as banning the foreign worshipers from performing Hajj, the holy Islamic pilgrimage — have kept the number of the COVID-19-related deaths as low as 10 (ten) — out of only 1563 number of infected patients recorded as of March 31.
On the contrary, the situation in Italy gave the world the glimpse of what could happen of lockdown is delayed. The number of both infected-patients and deaths in Italy has exceeded China, while the healthcare system of the country has collapsed.
Why should the lockdowns be longer?
For the governments and businesses, the option of ‘complete’ lockdown is horrifying, as this paves the way for a free fall of the economy. That is why the governments have been either delaying lockdowns or imposing less stricter lockdowns. Even when the lockdowns are imposed, the businesses do not prefer them to last long.
However, the experts are suggesting that the lockdowns should be not only full and stricter, but also way longer than the governments and businesses prefer them to be. Unless the virus completely stops spreading among the human population or a vaccine is available for widespread use, it would be unwise to withdraw — completely or even partially — the mandatory lockdown.
China has already taken this unwise move. Many health experts from across the world believe that there will be a ‘second wave of infections‘ in China, as the country has recently reopened Wuhan, the COVID-19’s place of origin. Although China’s strict lockdown has allowed the country to dramatically reduce the spread of COVID-19, the disease would again quickly start spreading once people start leaving their homes and start mixing with one another.
Had China not withdrawn the restrictions and instead continued with the mandatory lockdown for longer period of time, the fear of a ‘second wave of infections’ might not have surfaced at all. China should instead have prolonged the lockdown in order to ensure that the risk of spreading is over completely.
It is worth noting here that the British researchers have recently concluded that a minimum of 12-18 months would be necessary to achieve positive results from the lockdowns. This conclusion is worrisome for the U.K. government as well as for the governments across the world, as they are left with only two options to choose from: (i) withdraw the lockdown and risk lives, or (ii) continue the lockdown and witness collapse of the economy.
If the governments loosen or withdraw the lockdowns, they risk losing hundreds of thousands of people to the virus. On the contrary, the governments across the world appear to believe that they risk complete, irreparable and irreversible collapse of their economies if they do not loosen or withdraw the lockdowns.
While the moral standpoint is straight and clear and requires no discussion, the governments across the world should prioritize human health (and lives) over economic health even from an economic standpoint alone.
The economic standpoint is as straight, clear and simple as the moral standpoint. The governments should keep in mind that (i) it is the human who keep the economy going by providing themselves as ‘resources’ and (ii) it is the human whom the businesses see as the ‘consumers’. The more the human resources, the cheaper these resources are; and the more the consumers, the more the profits.
Bahauddin Foizee is a geopolitical, political and investment Threat/Risk Analyst and an international affairs columnist, with a major focus on overlapping Asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific/Indian-Ocean mega-regions and Middle East. He also, infrequently, writes about other issues including climate crisis, social awareness, law and refugee crisis.