We could learn from China’s central quarantining – it may be the ...

World

We could learn from China’s central quarantining – it may be the best bet

Thousands of beds could be used to house mildly affected individuals. It could even be fun

Daniel Falush

Is the Western world forgoing some of the most effective interventions against Covid-19 simply because they are awkward to talk about?

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, has encapsulated the tendency to avoid difficult topics by suggesting that lockdown can be ended through “testing, testing, testing”. Testing facilitates or improves the impact of almost every other medical and public health intervention, but to imply that rapid testing will on its own get anyone out of lockdown is misleading and, more importantly, can inhibit discussion of what a realistic set of measures actually is.

My own attempts to communicate about Covid-19 have made me more sympathetic to her and almost every other politician. I am a professor of infectious disease genetics, based in Shanghai. Since the beginning of March I have used Twitter and other media to try to communicate to my colleagues and other opinion makers in the West the nature of the threat posed by the virus and to explain how China has, since the end of January, achieved success in suppressing it. My aim has been to inform interventions in the West. I have learnt that it often takes time before professional and broader audiences become receptive to particular topics...

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