New COVID-19 outbreaks: this is what the hammer and the dance will be like
My list

Author | M. Martínez Euklidiadas

Countries worldwide that had defeated the curve of daily cases are now seeing numbers going up again, due to new outbreaks of COVID-19. Two weeks later, hospitals are becoming saturated and collapsing. It seems that the ‘new normal’ will look as much like the one we left behind as the period of household confinement that many countries have experienced. That will be the hammer and the dance.

These are the new COVID-19 outbreaks in the world

United States, Spain, Mexico, Singapore. Regardless of where we look:__ in all or nearly all countries, daily confirmed cases per million people are increasing,__ measured from the day on which the first case per million was confirmed.

This form of measuring, without labeling every country with the same date or talking of total infections, is key for comparing countries, since the infection did not reach every country at the same time and these countries do not have the same population.

The image above, from Our World in Data, illustrates [the situation in Europe](https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/daily-new-confirmed-cases-of-covid-19-per-million-tests-per-case?minPopulationFilter=1000000&country=ESP~PRT~FRA~DEU~GBR~ITA) in August 2020 (via the link, updated data). The article then shows other regions of the world. The curve has managed to be contained in nearly all of them. And in nearly all of them, there are already signs of __increases as we saw months ago, __but with differences. Will we be able to contain them?

Action strategies to do away with the new outbreaks of COVID-19

There are various different strategies to combat the spread of new coronavirus infections. These entail, to a lesser or greater extent: not doing anything (allowing infections, USA and United Kingdom at the beginning), mitigation __(flattening the infection curve, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany and now the United Kingdom), and suppression__ (controlling the pandemic, Singapore, China, Spain, Italy).

Formally speaking, almost every country has gone through the three phases. First they do nothing (it is not a case of political incapacity or lack of resources, but rather the inability to get ahead of an exponential problem), then they implement moderate measures (mitigation) and, if these fail to work, more aggressive ones (suppression). Then, they return to the moderate measures.

That is the new coronavirus mitigation strategy

The aim of this approach is __to reduce the peak of infections.__ That is, flattening the curve without saturating the economic system too much or, in other words, __flattening the curve in a way that enables the healthcare systems to absorb the load without overwhelming the activity.__ By way of example, none of the graphs in this article reach zero daily infections: all [maintain a balance between the contagion and maintaining activities such tourism, trade, etc.](https://smartcitylab-blog.preproduccion.website/blog/governance-finance/green-zoning-to-save-tourism-europe/) open.

That is the new coronavirus suppression strategy

A much more aggressive strategy than the one above, this strategy involves __stifling the transmission of the virus by making conclusive decisions __such as isolating the population, closing businesses or entire sectors or the [total quarantine of entire regions](https://smartcitylab-blog.preproduccion.website/blog/es/transformacion-digital/taiwan-corea-singapur-big-data-para-luchar-contra-la-pandemia/). Many countries are experiencing this phase to rapidly reduce infections if mitigation measures are compromised.

The hammer and dance strategy to tackle COVID-19

As indicated above, nearly all the countries choose a mixture, combining doing nothing, then implementing moderate containment measures (mitigation) and drastic measures (suppression) while seeking a balance between economic and health priorities. Since, although they may be effective, the suppression measures cannot be maintained over the longer term without severely affecting the economy.

 

For example, Spain is one of the countries that initially most drastically reduced the infection curve, but it did so through strict quarantine measures as did Wuhan in Hubei. This measure saved thousands of lives, but the consequence is that the country experienced a fall in GDP of 20 points with respect to the growth forecast. This is why, once a certain minimum contagion threshold was reached, mobility and the economy were reopened. The immediate effect has been new outbreaks.

This combined strategy is known as the ‘hammer and the dance’, after the publication of a study by the Imperial College of London in mid-March. The study illustrated how the rise and fall of the curve (measured in ICU beds) was conditional upon the mitigation or suppression measures, but without reaching zero infections.

In the graph above, we can see how ‘the hammer’ dropped in Spain on March 14, 2020 in the form of the State of Alarm with strict quarantine (suppression). Repeated extensions enabled the transmission of the virus to be significantly reduced.

However, upon lifting this metaphoric hammer, which represents the mitigation and suppression measures, the infections begin to rise again exponentially. This is why a second State of Alarm is being considered, as is the case in countries including Italy, China, Venezuela or Japan.

The balance between health and the economy

We tend to measure the generation of wealth as GDP. However, the GDP is a ‘flow’ measure: it does not measure the total wealth, but rather the wealth generated per year. This means that the accumulated wealth of a country (schools, companies, universities, hospitals, roads, etc.) is much greater. Even so, with COVID-19, there are drops in GDP because its measurement is simple.

It is also simple to measure health as people infected, people hospitalized, ICU bed occupancy or deceased persons. Neither of the two measures will provide a total vision of the reality, but they will provide a sufficient estimate for decision-making purposes. When the hammer comes down, healthcare breathes a sigh of relief and the economy suffocates. When it goes up, the most vulnerable suffocate and the economy breathes.

Why it is important to ensure the economy does not come to a standstill warrants a much broader analysis, which is not the purpose of this article. In essence, the cost (not just economic, but also in future lives) of destroying employment must be looked at within the equation that establishes ‘the hammer and the dance’ balance. Dancing costs lives. Bringing the hammer down, does too.

An example of this is the educational blow that many groups have received, for whom digitalized schooling is not a feasible alternative. A generational blow that could have a serious impact in the longer term, depriving young people of possibilities and pushing back many SDG markers as a result. __The balance between health and the economy __is so complex and difficult to maintain, but governments must strive to achieve it in order to build a resilience that is more at risk now than ever.

Photo | Liam Burnett-Blue

Related content
Proprietary or open-source software? Arguments in favor and against
Proprietary or open-source software? Arguments in favor and against
Tomorrow.Podcast 1x01: Are our cities more resilient than ever?
Tomorrow.Podcast 1x01: Are our cities more resilient than ever?
Smart AMB: can data lead us to deliver better urban services?
Smart AMB: can data lead us to deliver better urban services?
A New Space For Mayors. Bloomberg to Fund Harvard Center for Cities
A New Space For Mayors. Bloomberg to Fund Harvard Center for Cities
Barcelona Provincial Council: this is how a smart region works
Barcelona Provincial Council: this is how a smart region works
PODCAST 1x01 - Are our cities more resilient than ever?
PODCAST 1x01 - Are our cities more resilient than ever?
Barcelona’s strategy to drive the 2030 Agenda in the city
Barcelona’s strategy to drive the 2030 Agenda in the city
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: cities become smarter by forming smart regions
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: cities become smarter by forming smart regions
Pablo Soto, regional representative of Transparency and Participation in Madrid: “Technology should be used to enhance institutions”
Pablo Soto, regional representative of Transparency and Participation in Madrid: “Technology should be used to enhance institutions”
Metropolitan governance: extending municipal governments as a response to new urban challenges
Metropolitan governance: extending municipal governments as a response to new urban challenges
How to go from being a town to a Smart Town
How to go from being a town to a Smart Town
The G20 creates the Global Smart Cities Alliance to establish universal norms and guidelines for the implementation of technology
The G20 creates the Global Smart Cities Alliance to establish universal norms and guidelines for the implementation of technology
Paul Duan, co-founder and President of Bayes Impact: “We should trust in the power of the multitude”
Paul Duan, co-founder and President of Bayes Impact: “We should trust in the power of the multitude”
Open government and citizen participation: a journey through history - Infographic
Open government and citizen participation: a journey through history - Infographic
Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat:
Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat: "People need to be allowed to offer their own solutions to the problems in the places in which they live"
How and why do cities die?
How and why do cities die?
Digital natives, technological illiterates?
Digital natives, technological illiterates?
New COVID-19 outbreaks: this is what the hammer and the dance will be like
New COVID-19 outbreaks: this is what the hammer and the dance will be like
Citizens policing our streets: is it lawful to report the inappropriate use of cities?
Citizens policing our streets: is it lawful to report the inappropriate use of cities?
Smart cities that failed along the way
Smart cities that failed along the way
Can technology foster democracy?
Can technology foster democracy?
Welcome to the Smart City Live!
Welcome to the Smart City Live!
What makes a city attractive to talent?
What makes a city attractive to talent?
Imec: Open digital twin framework
Imec: Open digital twin framework
x-tention: Towards post covid-19 smart tourism
x-tention: Towards post covid-19 smart tourism
Arca: Wave control for better health
Arca: Wave control for better health
Smart Buildings: Enabling reliability and resilience for a better future
Smart Buildings: Enabling reliability and resilience for a better future
DMAP: Unlocking the power of transportation analytics
DMAP: Unlocking the power of transportation analytics
These were the urban utopias that preceded us - Infographic
These were the urban utopias that preceded us - Infographic
Medellín: data and infrastructures in contrast to its troubled past
Medellín: data and infrastructures in contrast to its troubled past
2030 Agenda and Urban Agenda for Catalonia: from Strategy into Practice
Live
2030 Agenda and Urban Agenda for Catalonia: from Strategy into Practice
How smart cities are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
How smart cities are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
From Crisis to Opportunity: Transforming European Cities in the COVID Era
From Crisis to Opportunity: Transforming European Cities in the COVID Era
Cities as Testbeds for Innovation
Cities as Testbeds for Innovation
Smart Cities Germany – an emerging market for urban technologies providers
Smart Cities Germany – an emerging market for urban technologies providers
CIOs as linking pins: bridging IT and European digital policy for smart cities
Live
CIOs as linking pins: bridging IT and European digital policy for smart cities
Barcelona Smart Region: innovative projects to improve connectivity and sustainability
Barcelona Smart Region: innovative projects to improve connectivity and sustainability
Barcelona Smart Region: providing smart services for citizens
Barcelona Smart Region: providing smart services for citizens
Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole: The New Smart Place
Live
Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole: The New Smart Place
City-states never disappeared: Hamburg, Hong Kong, Singapore
City-states never disappeared: Hamburg, Hong Kong, Singapore
G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance – Launching the Policy Roadmap
G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance – Launching the Policy Roadmap
Reinventing Cities with Technology after COVID-19 – Unpacking ideas from Japan
Reinventing Cities with Technology after COVID-19 – Unpacking ideas from Japan
AdvanGrid: Staying ahead in the energy transition
AdvanGrid: Staying ahead in the energy transition
Neareo: Powering QR codes
Neareo: Powering QR codes
People-focused Smart Cities: Urban Digital Transformation Working for the Benefit of All
People-focused Smart Cities: Urban Digital Transformation Working for the Benefit of All
Strengthening Metropolitan Governance
Strengthening Metropolitan Governance
Economic and social recovery leaving no one behind
Economic and social recovery leaving no one behind
Adopting Technologies Responsibly: a Global Policy Roadmap for Ethical Smart Cities
Adopting Technologies Responsibly: a Global Policy Roadmap for Ethical Smart Cities
Smart Villages & Territories
Smart Villages & Territories
The Global Voice of Cities
The Global Voice of Cities
Recommended profiles for you
Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Aina Merethe  Løhre
Aina Merethe Løhre
Digi Rogaland
Advisor
XM
Xavier Mayo
Barcelona City Council
Head of Internacional City Promotion
RV
Rosa Vroom
UCLG - UNITED CITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
UCLG United Cities and Local Governments
Leonel Gois Lima Oliveira
Leonel Gois Lima Oliveira
Unichristus
Professor
RL
Ruslana Lutsiv
West Ukrainian National University
lecturer teaching cultural communication and researching into smart cities
Rushi Rama
Rushi Rama
World Economic Forum
Smart Cities Lead
JOSE LUIS Gutiérrez Cureño
JOSE LUIS Gutiérrez Cureño
ASOCIACIÓN DE AUTORIDADES LOCALES DE MEXICO
PRESIDENTE DEL CONSEJO CONSULTIVO AALMAC
AS
Alexander Soler
Super student Council
Vice president
MZ
Mas Ayu Zainul Abidin
Penang State Secretary Office
Principal Assistant Secretary
LT
Luis Lauro Torres
PuenTech
Chief Policy Officer
Jaume Catarineu
Jaume Catarineu
Ubiquat
CEO
CV
CINARA DE VILA
pgmambiental
Lawer
BP
Baudouin Philippe
IDATE
Active in consultancy for public and private actors in the field of smart city
SS
Sylvia maulani Sylvia
Collage
Student
KS
Konstantin Sokolov
ICT Department, Government of Moscow
Division chief Smart City Lab Moscow ICT Department
SM
Silvano Mason
Deloitte LLP
Vice President, Real Estate Advisory
Maria Florencia Guzman
Maria Florencia Guzman
Student
Researcher
RK
Rohit Kumar
Student
Student
Ziv Shalev
Ziv Shalev
Ziv Shalev Consultig
Founder & CEO
ID
Iman Doroudi
Tehran Municipality
Programing and planing

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$