Scientists say that a second emerging wave of COVID-19 is possible as soon as this summer if China stops its practice of social distancing too soon.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the study alongside Health Data Research U.K., the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust.
What are the details?
The study, published in the Lancet, said that social distancing measures should remain in place in China until at least early April. Doing so could delay a second wave of the coronavirus until early October. The study warns that if China ceases its social distancing practices too soon, the area could see a larger second wave as early as August.
Kiesha Prem, the study's lead author, said that permitting typical, pre-COVID-19 social contact too soon will only result in disaster.
"The unprecedented measures the City of Wuhan has put in place to reduce social contacts in school and the workplace have helped to control the outbreak," Prem said. "However, the city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases. But if they relax the restrictions gradually, this is likely to both delay and flatten the peak."
Yang Liu, one of the study's co-authors, said that social distancing is only going to help people around the world on a large scale.
"Our results won't look exactly the same in another country, because the population structure and the way people mix will be different. But we think one thing probably applies everywhere: Physical distancing measures are very useful, and we need to carefully adjust their lifting to avoid subsequent waves of infections when workers and school children return to their normal routine," Liu said. "If those waves come too quickly, that could overwhelm health systems."
China announced earlier this week that it would lift the lockdown on Wuhan — the virus' epicenter — on April 8.
(H/T: Fox News)