Lessons learnt from easing COVID-19 restrictions: an analysis of countries and regions in Asia Pacific and Europe
Emeline Han, MSc † Melisa Mei Jin Tan, MSc † Eva Turk, PhD Devi Sridhar, PhD Gabriel M Leung, MD Kenji Shibuya, DrPH et al.
Published:September 24, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32007-9
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis. Many countries have implemented restrictions on population movement to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed; some have instituted full or partial lockdowns. However, lockdowns and other extreme restrictions cannot be sustained for the long term in the hope that there will be an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Governments worldwide now face the common challenge of easing lockdowns and restrictions while balancing various health, social, and economic concerns. To facilitate cross-country learning, this Health Policy paper uses an adapted framework to examine the approaches taken by nine high-income countries and regions that have started to ease COVID-19 restrictions: five in the Asia Pacific region (ie, Hong Kong [Special Administrative Region], Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea) and four in Europe (ie, Germany, Norway, Spain, and the UK). This comparative analysis presents important lessons to be learnt from the experiences of these countries and regions. Although the future of the virus is unknown at present, countries should continue to share their experiences, shield populations who are at risk, and suppress transmission to save lives.