Here are the lessons the West should learn from China's COVID-19 exit strategy to avoid disaster

Here are the lessons the West should learn from China's COVID-19 exit strategy to avoid disaster

Stores owners of a store selling a local favorite

Associated Press

Stores owners of a store selling a local favorite "Renmin," or "hot dry noodles," prepare takeaway orders in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The reappearance of Wuhan's favorite noodles is a tasty sign that life is slowly returning to normal in the Chinese city at the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak. The steady stream of customers buying bags of noodles smothered in peanut sauce testifies to a powerful desire to enjoy the familiar again after months of strict lockdown. (AP Photo/Olivia Zhang)

  • China and other Asian countries have been relatively successful in dealing with COVID-19 and can offer lessons to the West, JPMorgan said in a note on Tuesday.
  • Implementation of social distancing measures and lockdowns have been effective in containing the spread of the virus.
  • Western countries should borrow measures such as maintaining lockdowns after cases peak; delaying mass gatherings; and using tech to track COVID-19 patients.
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The West should draw lessons from Asian countries - especially China - that have successfully flattened the curve of coronavirus infections and deaths.

That's according to a note from analysts at JPMorgan, which warned of a risk of infection rebound when Western countries ease out of widely enforced lockdowns.

The analysts warned against relaxing social distancing measures too quickly. These efforts, they wrote, should continue two weeks after concrete evidence that the infection rate has peaked.

Italy, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths, should not relax its curfew before late April, they wrote. And the US, which has the highest number of infections globally, should not be out of lockdown before mid-May.


Italy coronavirus

Laura Lezza/Getty Images

A worker sanitizes the Piazza dei Miracoli near to the Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy, on March 17 2020.

The analysts noted that premature lifting of social distancing measures during the 1918 influenza pandemic, more popularly known as the Spanish flu, backfired and caused a second wave of infections.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, along with others, has said COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu.

anthony fauci

Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appears at the White House, in Washington DC, April 1, 2020.

Countries shouldn't relax their social distancing measures until they have enough intensive care units and hospital beds available to deal with a second wave of infections, JPMorgan cautioned.


Identifying people who had contracted and recovered from the virus, through accurate antibody testing, could also speed up a return to normal. These people could start returning to work and normal life, JPMorgan wrote.

The West should use phone data, and fast

JPMorgan also praised the way Asian countries used tech to help them tackle the virus faster. Monitoring coronavirus patients, and issuing warnings to those they had contact with, helped contain the spread.

In China, authorities kept track of people with different QR codes, designating coronavirus patients with a red code. Israel used phone data to trace people infected with COVID-19 or those who have been in contact with others infected.

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There are obvious concerns about privacy here, but JPMorgan suggests Western countries can adapt these techniques and strike an "appropriate balance" between privacy and the use of technology for contact tracing.

Delay school reopening and maintain social distancing even once retail stores open up

The analysts wrote that it might be wise to follow China's lead in delaying school openings for some weeks after lockdown measures are relaxed, since children have the potential to transmit the virus.


And even after restaurants and shops reopen, countries should still limit how many people can enter particular spaces. The analysts warned against resuming mass gatherings like concerts and conferences until after the summer.