Lifting lockdowns safely relies on effective testing. Germany surges ahead, but US states are flying blind
People in the US state of Georgia can now get their nails done, their hair cut — even get a tattoo or a massage — after just three weeks of a state-wide stay-at-home order. That’s an awful lot of touching, considering a highly contagious and deadly virus is going round.
These activities may give some people in Georgia a sense that life is returning to normal, but Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to allow such businesses to reopen Friday is a risky roll of the dice. In a state that has performed a relatively small number of coronavirus tests, Kemp is driving Georgia through this pandemic blindfolded.
As governments around the world begin easing their lockdowns — and as new infections are inevitable — they will get another chance to get their responses right.
Many are embracing that second chance, but some US states are not. There are now fears that reopening too quickly, or too boldly, could mean a second wave of infections in the US as fierce as the first.
If one lesson has come out of the rapid spread and sweeping death toll of this coronavirus over the past few months, it’s the importance of testing, health experts have reiterated.
Without a vaccine in sight, what governments need to do to safely lift lockdowns is test, trace and quarantine, according to WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris.
“We need to know where the virus is, and then separate the sick from the healthy — that’s why you need testing. You need to check that people who have symptoms actually have the virus, and then find people who they’ve been in contact with and isolate them,” she said.
“If you can’t do that, then you go back to square one.”