Lockdowns have saved more than three million lives from coronavirus in the World , a study estimates.
The team at Imperial College London said the “death toll would have been huge” without lockdown.
But they warned that only a small proportion of people had been infected and we were still only “at the beginning of the pandemic”.
Another study argued global lockdowns had “saved more lives, in a shorter period of time, than ever before”.
The Imperial study assessed the impact of restrictions in 11 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK – up to the beginning of May.
By that time, around 130,000 people had died from coronavirus in those countries.
The researchers used disease modelling to predict how many deaths there would have been if lockdown had not happened. And the work comes from the same group that guided the UK’s decision to go into lockdown.
They estimated 3.2 million people would have died by 4 May if not for measures such as closing businesses and telling people to stay at home.
That meant lockdown saved around 3.1 million lives, including 470,000 in the UK, 690,000 in France and 630,000 in Italy, the report in the journal Nature shows.
“Lockdown averted millions of deaths, those deaths would have been a tragedy,” said Dr Seth Flaxman, from Imperial.
Hong Kong is set to impose its toughest curbs yet to control the coronavirus, after authorities warned the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely high.
- The WHO has warned the pandemic could get far worse if countries around the world do not follow basic healthcare precautions. “The virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
- More than 13 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 7.3 million have recovered, and more than 573,000 have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. The US, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy have recorded the most deaths
Earlier we reported on a number of places which have announced renewed lockdowns as cases rise. They follow a move towards localised restrictions elsewhere in the world as the pandemic continues:
- Africa: Morocco’s northern city of Tangiers went back into lockdown on Monday, while Madagascar put the Analamanga region – home to the capital Antananarivo – under strict measures last week. South Africa, meanwhile, has brought back a night-time curfew
- Latin America: Areas of the Colombian capital Bogotá, which has been at the centre of the country’s outbreak, were placed under a two-week lockdown on Monday
- Australia: The country’s second-biggest city, Melbourne, last week told its five million residents to stay at home for six weeks. The state of Victoria, where the city is located, also closed its borders with New South Wales and South Australia
- Middle East: Both Israel and the West Bank have reintroduced restrictions in response to a rise in cases
- Asia: A district of the Philippine capital Manila is expected to go into lockdown for two-weeks in the coming days, an official was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Uzbekistan has been in a second lockdown since 10 July, with measures extending until 1 August