Ever since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic many countries have gone under lockdown, economies have been on pause people have been wondering, “when is it safe to go outside?”
Getting back on track is much easier said than done. But though COVID-19 is far from defeated, some Asian states have been able to slow down the spread of new cases and have now shifted focus to restarting their domestic economies.
Authorities need to define what recovery will look like after COVID-19. There is no playbook for returning to normal. Every decision in these times feels like a gamble for, but luckily, governments can look to the success some Asian countries have chalked as they recovered from both extreme and non-extreme casualties.
How can the rest of the world learn from Asia?
For one, the response to COVID-19 has to be completely inclusive. Now is not the time for countries to prioritize the young and wealthy above all citizens. Providing a system that caters to low-wage workers protects them from the blow of a low-demand economy.
Since these group of people can’t afford to work from home or stay there, they along with the elderly, are usually the most vulnerable group to suffer during a lockdown.
Measures taken to combat the spread have to be swift and decisive. According to WHO, countries looking to re-open society and return to normal programming should be able to test and trace every infection and people who came into contact with the patient.
After sealing off Wuhan and other cities, the Chinese government was able to slow the number of new cases discharging the last of its hospitalized patients on April 27. The response to the virus by some Asian countries helped lessen the blow of economic distress. Countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea have been successful in effective contact tracing which helped them manage the transmission of the virus.
Life after COVID-19 is certainly something most cannot predict, even the most efficiently staged recoveries can prove fragile like in the case of Singapore. The country’s case numbers rocketed in over a week in April after authorities had permitted schools to reopen, confident they had controlled the virus.
Is it safe to go outside?
No one knows what the right answer is. Truth is, we might be operating behind closed doors for a while and this for many is worrying enough as they struggle on how to adjust to the new normal. But the one thing worse than closed doors is a public that is too terrified to walk through open ones. As such, authorities must do their best to cover all angles on the road to economic and social recovery.