12:09 GMT24 September 2020
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    The Spanish region of Catalonia has this week re-entered lockdown, as authorities in Spain move to control a resurgence of coronavirus cases just weeks after a nationwide lockdown was lifted.

    Elsewhere, the English city of Leicester remains in lockdown as cases of the deadly virus are still well above the rate of those across the rest of the country.

    Maximilian De Courten, health policy lead and professor in Global Public Health at Victoria University, Australia, looks at localised lockdowns in more detail.

    Sputnik: How have cities and regions entering a second lockdown coped?

    Maximilian De Courten: It's a little bit too early to tell because actually it [localised lockdowns] starts around the world only now. The best example of a city who has gone into a second lockdown and came out of it is Beijing and China, but that means in other words, all the other places, including Melbourne, where I am, we have just gone into it but we don't know if the second lockdown actually works.

    Sputnik: We're seeing some countries and regions around the world do this for the second time but it's still a new phenomenon. Will these measures be effective in tackling these localised surges of COVID-19 and ultimately the resurgence of the coronavirus?

    Maximilian De Courten: In theory, yes, because the lockdown, especially if you do it tight and strict, is effective in reducing the spread of the virus, but in practice, a second one, and if we have in a couple of weeks, months, a third one; every wave and every lockdown will be met by a population which is increasingly getting frustrated and fatigued, to follow the instructions.

    © REUTERS / AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi
    A member of the public is seen getting a test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Crossroads Hotel testing centre following a cluster of infections in Sydney, Australia, July 16, 2020

    Sputnik: In the UK, if we look at Leicester as a subject, we're hearing authorities talk about how hard it is for them to monitor a localised lockdown. They're not getting a lot of support from the central government. We're also hearing, as you mentioned, frustration from people in that region who simply want to see the lockdown lifted. What do authorities managing local lockdowns need to do to ensure that they are successful? What actions should be taken by citizens in lockdown to protect themselves and the people around them?

    Maximilian De Courten: Basically, you alluded to where we are with the second lockdown, that's the negative experience from the first one and that means people losing jobs, people can't do their work as they used to. It's all far more cumbersome and restricted, and so on, people are getting frustrated. Add to that the second round, that also public health authorities and politicians are increasingly talking in different ways. Some are saying we need to do that and appealing to the population to follow the advice and the others are increasingly doubting and saying this can't go on. In public health, mixed messages coming from the authorities are, of course, very bad to have, because people then get more confused and tend to not to follow instructions because everybody can then come up and say 'oh, but the central government said this, or the local government said the opposite, so I'll just leave it'. That's one aspect. So then one could say we need to then throw more policing behind the lockdown, which doesn't make it pleasant at all, but rather more confrontational and a restrictive approach. What I suggest and also what we did in the recent article we had, was you need to pair the lockdown with some other measures to inhibit the spread of the virus and those are the face masks.

    Sputnik: Is this a situation where we're going to be having these localised lockdowns for years to come or is there more to it than that?

    Maximilian De Courten: We are all hoping that it's not going to be lockdown/relax, lockdown/relax, for a year or so to come. It's all a race against time until we come up with other ways to combat the virus and that would be either through a vaccine or through some good treatments with little side effects that we can treat people, instead of having just to isolate them and hope that they get out of it. If neither comes, neither vaccine or if a vaccine is only coming in 18 months and treatment in a year or so, then many places will look at these localised flare-up and lockdowns, and hope that doesn't choke whole country's economies.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    China, Spain, United Kingdom, COVID-19
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