(Reuters) – Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say the United States may have to bear the social distancing measures adopted during the coronavirus epidemic until 2022.
The study comes as more than 2,200 people died in the United States from Tuesday’s epidemic, a record, according to a Reuters count, even as the country debated how to reopen its economy. The total number of deaths in the United States from the virus rose to more than 28,300 on Tuesday.
“Intermittent distance may be required in 2022 unless the capacity for intensive care is significantly increased or treatment or vaccine is available,” Harvard researchers said in results published Tuesday in the journal Science.
Citing examples from South Korea and Singapore, the researchers wrote that effective distancing could reduce pressure on health systems and allow for contact tracing and quarantine.
The study recognized that prolonged distancing would most likely have profoundly negative economic, social and educational consequences.
The study added that even in the case of “apparent elimination”, surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 should still be maintained, as a resurgence of the contagion may be possible until 2024.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the infections “certainly” have not yet peaked. Almost 2 million people worldwide were infected and more than 124,000 died in the most severe pandemic of a century.
The epicenter has moved from China, where the virus emerged in December, to the United States, which has now recorded the most deaths.
(Report by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru. Edited by Gerry Doyle)