Coronavirus lockdown warning: Why Montreal proves second wave ‘highly possible’

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Countries and states all around the world are beginning to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions. This morning, Scotland became the first of the devolved nations to unveil its four-step route out of lockdown.

In Europe, fears stirred over Ascension Day – a public holiday in many European countries – and the number of people flocking to beauty spots.

Cyprus, meanwhile, went as far as to completely lift its lockdown.

There, outdoor areas for restaurants and pubs will reopen on Thursday, as will hairdressers, parks and playgrounds – and people can host up to 10 visitors in their homes.

Pakistan has similarly lifted its lockdown, with doctors warning over the “horrifying consequences” of such an act.

On the other side of the Atlantic, all 50 US states have partially reopened, easing certain restrictions after a swathe of protests gripped the country.

This comes despite the US’ death toll on track to reach 100,000, its confirmed cases nearing 2 million.

Today, Mexico reported its highest ever one-day virus death toll.

Yet, the country is in the process of easing its lockdown.

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Australia too has eased lockdown measures in some of its territories, with pictures flooding social media over the weekend of people enjoying pints at pubs and restaurants.

The picture of countries all around the world slowly but surely lifting the protection of lockdown is disconcerting given the backdrop of rising virus deaths and cases.

Yet, government’s around the world face the issue of an economic collapse not seen in over a hundred of years.

It is something of a Catch-22.


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A warning may be taken from Montreal’s 18885 smallpox outbreak.

On June 1, 1885, all but a few cases of smallpox – a disease largely regarded as having been eradicated – in the designated hospital, and no new cases at all.

The summer months had arrived and, so too the festivals and shows.

Religious festivals were the flagship events in Montreal, and processions were organised to welcome home Canadian soldiers who had been fighting in the west of the country, subduing rebellions.

Michael Bliss, an author and historian, explained during an interview in the 2010 documentary ‘Outbreak: Anatomy of a Plague’, the extent to which lapsed isolation and restrictions stirred a second outbreak.

He said: “The big event in the summer of 1885 was when Buffalo Bill appeared with his Wild West show, everybody had to go and see that.

“You can imagine the little children pleading with their mothers ‘Oh my spots are just about gone’.

“Every one of these gatherings becomes a cauldron for the fires of smallpox to spread a little bit further.”

The richest members of Montreal’s population packed their bags and travelled up river to their grand summer mansions or went on boat trips.

Meanwhile, back in the city, the cramped working class areas experienced a surge in cases and subsequent smallpox deaths.

By mid-July, the number of dead was close to 200, with a further 400 infected.

This was the point in which the epidemic started to gather momentum.

In the end, nearly all of Montreal’s populace caught the virus, and 5,864 people died.

Many have warned that the chances of a second outbreak on lockdown being lifted are certain.

Yesterday, Dr Andrea Ammon, the EU’s coronavirus chief warned the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infection across Europe, including the UK.

And, earlier this week, reported on China’s issuing a “high-risk” level to two cities in the province of Jilin in northeast China, an area home to more than 100million residents.

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