US/World

More Countries Reimpose Lockdown Measures After Sudden Spike In Coronavirus Cases

Health experts have been warning government leaders that lifting lockdown measures early could lead to a sudden increase in cases of COVID-19. That is now the case in six countries that recently reopened and allowed citizens to return to their regular daily activities. 

China, Germany, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and South Korea have been reimposing lockdown measures weeks after removing the restrictions. The countries were surprised by a spike in new coronavirus cases after the reopening and experts said a second wave of outbreak could be worse. 

In China, where the COVID-19 pandemic started, the government rolled out a series of reopenings by the end of March. The move came after rates of new cases consistently dropped daily for weeks since the beginning of that month, Business Insider reported Monday.

However, the Chinese government reported an average of 36 new cases per day. The increase forced local officials to restart lockdowns, with some provinces closing again after only a few days to a week of reopening. 

For example, Wuhan residents were allowed to leave their houses on March 28. But officials reversed the decision five days later because of the risk of another coronavirus outbreak.

Germany also reported that COVID-19 has been returning to some districts. It comes amid the country’s efforts to slowly open businesses and schools. 

The German government decided to impose emergency measures in three districts in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein in early May due to sudden increase in new cases of coronavirus infections. The measures include limited public movements and wider coronavirus testing for all plant workers, according to Deutsche Welle.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on May 6 that she would suspend the easing of lockdown measures if necessary. Meanwhile, South Korea has been increasing mass testing and contact tracing efforts after health authorities confirmed a local COVID-19 outbreak.

The country saw its daily new cases jump from an average of 10 or below to 34 cases on May 9. Officials said the increase occurred a few days after the government removed social distancing restrictions 

Most of the new cases were linked to a nightclub district in Seoul. Bars and clubs across Seoul have been closed again to prevent another outbreak.

The South Korean government also delayed the reopening of schools and businesses, the Straits Times reported.

Lighter Measures In Middle East

Despite the increase in new COVID-19 cases per day, some heavily affected countries in the Middle East plan to continue reopening certain areas. Renewed lockdowns will only affect those with the highest new infections. 

Iran announced that the southwestern province of Khuzestan will be under a lockdown but schools in other less affected provinces will reopen, Al Jazeera reported. Cases grew to nearly 1,700 on Monday from 800 in early May. 

Khuzestan Governor Gholamreza Shariati said the increase occurred due to lighter social distancing measures in recent days. Select areas will also be closed in Lebanon. 

However, the country said lockdowns will run for only four days to help manage the spike in new cases. Lebanon reported on May 7 that daily new cases climbed to 34 from less than 10 in April.

The infections increased one week after the reopening of bars, restaurants, hairdressers, places of worship and some outdoor work sites. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported a spike in COVID-19 cases after it lifted lockdowns for Ramadan. New cases started to climb up in early May and the country now records 2,000 new cases per day.

Local officials plan to reimpose a new curfew by May 23 after the Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. 

China Coronavirus COVID-19 An elderly woman arrives in an ambulance to Wuhan Red Cross Hospital after being transferred from another hospital after recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan on March 30, 2020. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

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