Closing Borders and Stopping the COVID-19 Virus: WHO & EU Were “Fatally Mistaken”

Closing Borders and Stopping the COVID-19 Virus: WHO & EU Were “Fatally Mistaken”

Journey restrictions carried out early on in the pandemic have been essential in slowing the unfold of the coronavirus and preserving dying charges low. A brand new examine revealed by Ruud Koopmans, director at the WZB Berlin Social Science Heart, reveals that international locations that had journey restrictions in place by February or early March suffered fewer COVID-19 fatalities by mid-year than international locations that acted later. The examine examines for 181 international locations worldwide how restrictions on worldwide journey have affected COVID-19 mortality.

Till mid-March 2020, the WHO, the EU in addition to German authorities had been satisfied that the unfold of the virus couldn’t be curbed by border closures. “This perception was fatally mistaken,” argues Ruud Koopmans. “Journey restrictions must be given a lot higher weight,” he urges. “This holds true for holding upcoming waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to comparable pandemics in the future.”

The examine attracts on sociological accounts of community diffusion and reveals that international locations which can be closely uncovered to worldwide journey and tourism – comparable to  France, Italy, and the USA – recorded considerably increased numbers of deaths. At the identical time, dying charges in international locations extra at the margins of worldwide journey networks as effectively in island states remained comparatively low.

In view of this key function of worldwide journey flows, the examine examines the results of entry bans and necessary quarantines on COVID-19 mortality. The sooner such journey restriction measures had been carried out, the higher was their limiting impact on mortality. Crucially, journey restrictions wanted to be in place earlier than the native unfold of the virus had spiraled uncontrolled. If one compares international locations that imposed journey restrictions till early March to international locations that implement them from mid-March onward or by no means, mortality inside the first group is an  estimated62 share factors decrease than in the second group.

Amongst the early adopters of journey restrictions with considerably decrease dying charges are international locations comparable to Australia, Israel, and the Czech Republic. Germany, which launched its first journey restrictions on 16 March, belongs to the late-adopter group, however international locations comparable to Nice Britain, France or Brazil responded even later.

The examine reveals that the kind of journey restriction additionally performs a task. Necessary quarantines for incoming vacationers had been more practical than entry bans. A believable rationalization is that entry bans typically embrace exceptions for each residents and everlasting residents. Against this, quarantine measures have a tendency to use to all incoming vacationers, no matter their nationality or nation of residence. The examine additional reveals that focused journey restrictions (represented in the examine by entry bans and necessary quarantines for vacationers from China or Italy) had been more practical than restrictions focused in opposition to all overseas international locations.

Reference: “A Virus That Is aware of No Borders? Publicity to and Restrictions of Worldwide Journey and the International Diffusion of COVID-19” by Ruud Koopmans, October 2020, WZB Dialogue Paper.

Ruud Koopmans is the Director of the Migration, Integration, Transnationalization Analysis Unit at WZB and a Professor of Sociology and Migration Analysis at the Humboldt-College of Berlin.
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