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17 February 2021, 12:09

Wochenblick: Lukashenko was right to refrain from coronavirus lockdown

An archive photo
An archive photo

MINSK, 17 February (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko chose not to put in place a coronavirus lockdown and the figures proved him right – much to chagrin of ardent supporters of lockdowns, writes the Austrian newspaper Wochenblick.

The introduction of a strict quarantine as the only possible way to counter the spread of the coronavirus infection goes hand in hand with ‘a game of statistics', writes the Austrian edition. Confining people to their homes is expected to reduce the caseload and thus protect the population. To make people observe the self-isolation regime, the media keep updating them on coronavirus death counts. However, Belarus is not like any other country in this respect, as the life there looks completely different.

“The coronavirus death toll is much lower in Belarus than in other countries, although Belarus did not implement mass quarantines. Allegations that the country is underreporting coronavirus cases and deaths are too superficial,” Wochenblick says. The newspaper cites the COVID-19 morbidity and mortality statistics for Belarus for the first three weeks of January: week 1 - 14,031 positive tests and 75 deaths, week 2 - 13,367 positive tests and 65 deaths, week 3 - 10,251 positive tests and 58 deaths. The country has a population of 9.5 million.

Journalists cited the morbidity data for Austria for the same time period: week 1 - 15,133 positive tests and 378 deaths, week 2 - 11,406 tests with 383 deaths, week 3 - 10,421 tests and 348 deaths. Austria has a population of 8.8 million.

The statistics for the two countries show a striking difference in mortality rates, although the incidence rate was about the same. According to Wochenblick, the reasons for the low mortality from coronavirus in Belarus may be a large number of hospital beds and a high-quality infectious disease prevention system inherited from the Soviet Union.

It is also worth mentioning the difference in the methodology used to calculate mortality from coronavirus. In Belarus, specialists make a distinction between deaths from coronavirus and deaths from a disease aggravated by a coronavirus infection, which is not done in other countries.

Austrian journalists point out another important thing that may explain low mortality from COVID-19 in Belarus. The country has not introduced any quarantines. In this regard, the article cites the opinion of John Ioannidis, an American epidemiologist of Greek origin. In his research, he made a conclusion that strict quarantine and restrictive measures have no significant effect on the spread of infection. On the contrary, they cause enormous collateral damage.

“The fact that mortality in Belarus during 2020, the peak year for the coronavirus, was even slightly lower than in the previous years may well be due to the fact that the population was not ‘tortured' by strict quarantine measures,” Wochenblick writes.

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