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Umbilical cord protectors are a model for future Covid travel rules

The writer is an associate professor of Japanese history at Columbia University

Until recently, I hoped that the travel ban introduced last year in response to the Covid pandemic would quickly be reversed. But since the discovery of the Omicron variant, the outlook for international travel has become increasingly uncertain.

To understand the future of successive virus strains, it is helpful to look to the past. Two hundred years ago, cord cleaning was the world’s first international travel bubble. This network of permanent quarantine stations is designed to protect Europe from infectious diseases circulating in Africa and Asia. Each visitor arriving from these continents must be quarantined for up to a month at designated ports along the Mediterranean coast, waiting on board in a harbor or in a purpose-built vessel. lazaretto (isolated hotel).

Many 19th century quarantine protocols may seem strange to us. As Alex Chase-Levenson’s book, yellow flag, make it clear, instead of hand sanitizers, coins, letters and even people are dipped in vinegar to wipe out the plague. At one point, visitors were often “fumed” – stripped naked and locked in a room with burning herbs until they nearly suffocated. However, the history of nerve therapy in Europe still offers useful lessons.

The first is an alarming one: quarantine protocol stretches back more than 50 years from the late 18th century, with increasingly strict and complex rules. It was an ominous omen. The second is that the umbilical cord has the effect of dividing the world into distinct regions, depending on the level of awareness of countries in managing public health. Ironically, this time it is more likely that Europe will be considered the epidemic zone and Asia the clean zone. While most Western countries have only adopted tokenization measures to slow its spread, those in Asia-Pacific have proven much more successful in stopping the spread of the virus. virus strains. China, the country with the strictest quarantine controls in the world, has barely reopened its borders. When Omicron was first discovered, Japan – which had just begun to reopen after eliminating the Delta variant – slammed the gates once more.

Third, 19th-century isolation rules were non-negotiable and mandatory: whether in a private suite or crammed in a shared cell, no one could buy their way out. Unlike now, there are no stricter requirements for non-citizens. Compared to these double standards, the rigor of lazarettos Enlightening positive outlook.

The fourth lesson is more encouraging. European governments cooperate closely in the enforcement of umbilical cord hygiene. Health departments in different port cities work together, and diplomatic consular officers inspect quarantine facilities regularly. Even at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the British navy lent ships to float lazarettos for French troops returning from Egypt. Cordon is credited with helping create the world’s first international public health organization.

Now, the world lacks this kind of cooperation. The World Health Organization plays a valuable role in synthesizing scientific research but has no enforcement authority, so its guidelines are useless and a longstanding policy against the orders. Travel bans are widely ignored. Attempts to establish a tourism bubble have mainly been conducted on a bilateral basis, with East Asian governments particularly wary of opening up tourism corridors. But if even Napoleonic Britain and France can unite to fight the plague, surely Japan and China can overcome their own disagreements?

Standardizing isolation procedures could help create a common slum-free region that includes large parts of East Asia and the Pacific. It could also lead to a more equitable quarantine policy that does not discriminate on the basis of nationality. Faced with a virus that will continue to mutate wildly, that might be the least-worst option.

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