The world is shutting down. Places that were once teeming with the hustle and bustle of daily life have become ghost-towns with massive restrictions put on our lives – from lockdowns and school closures to travel restrictions and bans on mass gatherings.
It is an unparalleled global response to a disease. But when will it end and when will we be able to get on with our lives?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he believes the UK can “turn the tide” against the outbreak within the next 12 weeks and the country can “send coronavirus packing”.
But even if the number of cases starts to fall in the next three months, then we will still be far from the end.
It can take a long time for the tide to go out – possibly years.
It is clear the current strategy of shutting down large parts of society is not sustainable in the long-term. The social and economic damage would be catastrophic.
What countries need is an “exit strategy” – a way of lifting the restrictions and getting back to normal.
But the coronavirus is not going to disappear.
If you lift the restrictions that are holding the virus back, then cases will inevitably soar.
“We do have a big problem in what the exit strategy is and how we get out of this,” says Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.
“It’s not just the UK, no country has an exit strategy.”
It is a massive scientific and societal challenge.