One of the measures taken to prevent coronavirus spread was lockdown for at least two months around the globe. After lockdown measures were first lifted, many countries faced a second wave of infections.
Some cities went back on another lockdown while efforts went into contact tracing, continuous healthcare efforts, mass testing, and planning for schools to reopen or not. Other countries such as Singapore and Israel used a strategy called circuit breakers to reduce the number of positive cases.
A circuit breaker is a mini-lockdown where restrictions are strict for a short period to reduce daily cases. It is named after the circuit breakers on an electric board which stops the flow of electricity to prevent bigger problems.
The Importance of Mini-Lockdowns
Circuit breakers typically last two weeks but could be longer depending on the severity of cases, how disciplined a population is, and how strict the rules are. It also gives the government some time to re-strategize the next necessary steps to ensure public safety.
The mini-lockdowns are designed not only to reduce the case count but so that the economy won't suffer more than it already has during the pandemic. The short period of stricter restrictions is also for the benefit of people's mental health, which has increasingly gotten worse due to isolation for months during the first global lockdown. Policymakers have also strategized for circuit breakers to occur during school holidays so that the education system would not be disrupted more than it already has in the past few months.
Dr. Adam Kuhcharsky from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explained that one of the goals is for intensive care units not to be filled up like when the pandemic first broke out. "As cases and hospitalizations increase, there is less information on what the outbreak is doing as test and trace can't pick it all up, you don't know where the outbreak is."
When there are lower levels of the virus, it becomes easier to trace where the outbreaks started, such as superspreading events. Dr. Mike Tildesley from the University of Warwick said that there might be "a cycle of short-term lockdowns until you have an exit strategy like a vaccine or herd immunity."
Implementing a Circuit Breaker
The Welsh Government recently announced that they are preparing for a circuit breaker. There has not been a specified date or duration yet, but the First Minister was asked to give businesses some time to prepare.
Minister Eluned Morgan, who was newly assigned to be in charge of health issues, said that the government considers "several factors when considering this because people are worried about their jobs, and we would have to make sure there was an economic package in place."
There are still a lot of discussions among the leaders if a circuit-breaker is necessary due to its economic impact or how it will disrupt the current academic term. Covid-19 cases in Wales had increased by 49% within a week with 10 deaths on October 15 and over 700 new cases.
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