Nov 5, 2020 - Health

Europe's grim lesson about COVID lockdowns

Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe writes on pieces of paper

Conte announces new coronavirus restrictions Nov. 4 in Rome. Photo: Alessandro Serranò/Getty Images

European leaders are learning that the longer you wait to address the coronavirus, the harsher the mitigation measures to address an exponentially growing caseload must be.

Driving the news: Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

  • Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the strictest policies would be implemented in four regions rather than nationwide.

England's second lockdown begins today, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament was the only option for avoiding a "medical and moral disaster."

  • Johnson had previously resisted taking such drastic action, "rejecting calls from scientists who advise the government, and from the opposition Labour Party, for an earlier but shorter lockdown," per the NYT.

The bottom line: "Europe is a great cautionary tale" for the month ahead in the U.S., Brown's Ashish Jha told me earlier this week.

  • An outbreak can't be controlled overnight, and the longer it's left alone, the more intense the policy responses are that would be required to control it.
Go deeper