During much of the period of the pandemic, a few of the Asia-pacific countries, at some point or the other, have utilised zero strategy and successfully brought down COVID-19 cases to zero. The Zero Strategy is a method that aims to bring down COVID-10 cases to a minimum by imposing strict lockdown regulations, imposing travel bans and border closing.
At one point, this strategy was utilised and hauled by the global health experts and a lot of the countries around the world succeeded in bringing down their cases, especially in countries like New Zealand, China, Singapore among many others.
With the rise in the number of cases for the new Delta variant, a lot of the countries have gone into overdrive, strategising different approaches to contain the rapid spread of the highly contagious variant of the virus. This has prompted health authorities to question if zero strategy is the way to go when it comes to beating the virus. Peter Collignon, an infectious disease physician and professor at the Australian National University Medical School considers the zero strategy to not be sustainable in the medium to long term strategy.
With the vaccines being rolled out worldwide, a lot of countries are moving towards focusing on vaccinating their population and almost lifting all restrictions over peoples’ freedom. Countries like the United Kingdom have started allowing fully vaccinated people from Europe and the USA to travel to the UK without the need for being quarantined. The country is also deploying rapid antigen home testing, allowing people to ascertain their own risk to others before setting out to crowded areas.
With countries like Singapore and Australia understanding and accepting that their countries must learn to live with and deal with the virus, have chosen to focus on hospitalisation and vaccination over the shutdown of the respective countries and their freedom. Seven weeks after the decision to completely shut down the country after a surge in the number of cases because of the Delta variant, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged that long periods of heavy restrictions have brought down the number of cases significantly. However they were choosing otherwise because eliminating the virus when the vaccine wasn’t available was necessary, but now that they do, they want to look at other options and opportunities to bring back the way of life they lived prior to the pandemic.
China is one of the very few countries that have utilised the zero strategy to drive down cases in recent times. China’s aim to stamp down every infection seems to only grow stronger with over 75% of their entire population being vaccinated already. And yet the country has been going through spells of strict lockdowns because of the fourth delta driven flare-up. Hong Kong, which has so far avoided the transmission of the delta, have made it clear that their global financial status is not more important than their links to the mainland with the joint goal of elimination.
China’s recent snap lockdown method that has continued throughout the year has impacted the company’s economy with retail sales growth slowed to 2.5% in August, falling far short of the 7% expansion expected by the analysts.
With countries accepting and focusing on increasing vaccination drives and bringing back the freedom of people to move freely and deal with the variant has allowed the resumption of a scale of normalcy in many countries and the shift to deal with the virus has provided countries with the opportunity to improve their economy while giving their population the much needed time to blow their steam out after almost two long strenuous years of lockdown. All of these things are affected because of the Zero strategy, which of course is not bad when it came to dealing with the virus when we had no alternative, but now people can understand that it is something we have to live with while making sure it doesn’t affect us as it has in the past.
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