Relaxing Social Distancing Rules in Wuhan Too Soon Might Prompt 2nd Wave of Infections: Study

March 27, 2020 Updated: March 29, 2020

Easing social distancing rules and school closures in China’s virus epicenter of Wuhan too soon could lead to a second wave of infections later this year, according to a recent study.

A March 25 study published in The Lancet medical journal found that lifting work and school closures in the city this month could cause a second wave of cases in late August. It found that if these restrictions were instead lifted in April, then a second peak could be delayed until October, which would relieve pressure on health services in the intervening months.

Wuhan has been in lockdown since Jan. 23, a month after the CCP virus outbreak emerged last December, while schools and businesses have been closed since mid-January, initially due to the Lunar New Year holidays. Travel restrictions are set to lift on April 8.

The city’s roads reopened on March 27. Some of the city’s bus operations restarted on March 25, and the city’s subway system will partially reopen on March 28. Schools and non-essential businesses remain closed.

“The city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases. But if they relax the restrictions gradually, this is likely to both delay and flatten the peak,” Kiesha Prem, the study’s lead researcher from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.

The researchers modeled the impact of lifting control measures in different scenarios. It predicted that the most effective scenario would likely be a staggered return to work at the beginning of April, which could potentially reduce the median number of new infections by 24 percent up to the end of the year, with a delayed second peak occurring in October.

Tim Colbourn from University College London, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement that the new findings will help policymakers in other countries as they determine how to ease restrictions over time.

“Given many countries with mounting epidemics now potentially face the first phase of lockdown, safe ways out of the situation must be identified.”

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

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