As the first Coronavirus outbreak was witnessed in China in December 2019, the disease spread to more than 200 countries and territories. In the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment, governments worldwide have responded by implementing unprecedented containment and mitigation measures— the Mega Lockdown.
On the other hands, it all resulted in multiple economic losses and a decline in global economic activity across the world. The containment measures have been very effective in flattening the pandemic curve. The stringent containment measures put in place in New Zealand. Restrictions on gatherings and public events implemented when cases were in single digits. Consequently schools and workplaces were closed and all were directed to stay-at-home. And hence, just a few days later the fatalities reduced more than 90%. In other words, the results suggest that, in a country like New Zealand, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths would have been at least ten times larger than in the absence of concrete preventive actions.
Quick intervention and containment measured as the number of days it took a country to implement containment measures after a significant outbreak—public health response time in epidemiology lingo—played a significant role in flattening the curve. Countries such as Vietnam that were faster to put in place containment measures witnessed a reduction in the average number of infections and deaths of 95 and 98 percent respectively. The effect of containment measures also varied depending on variations in country and social characteristics. The impacts were stronger in countries where colder weather during the outbreak produced higher infection rates, and where the population was older and hence more vulnerable to infection. The way civil society responded to de jure restrictions mattered as well. Countries where lockdown measures resulted in less mobility, and therefore more social distancing, saw a greater reduction in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Ultimately, all explored whether the effect of containment varies across types of measure. Many of these measures were introduced simultaneously as part of the country’s response to limit the spread of the virus, making it challenging to identify the most effective measure. Nevertheless, our results suggest that while all measures have contributed to significantly reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, stay-at-home orders appear to have been relatively more effective.