WHO Warns Nations Exiting Lockdowns, Says Extreme Vigilance Needed

by GoNews Desk 2 years ago Views 1507

WHO Warns Nations Exiting Lockdowns, Says Extreme
With over four million cases of COVID-19 across the world, over the past week several countries have started lifting stay at home orders and other restrictions in a phased way.

However, the WHO has called on countries to show "extreme vigilance" as they begin loosening restrictions.     

At a press briefing late on Monday, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “to protect lives and livelihoods, a slow, steady, lifting of lockdowns is key to both stimulating economies, while also keeping a vigilant eye on the virus so that control measures can be quickly implemented if an upswing in cases is identified”.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies programme, who was also present at the briefing, said that “If the disease persists at a low level without the capacity to investigate clusters, there's always the risk that the virus takes off again”.

Many have used the time to ramp up their ability to test, trace, isolate and care for patients, which is the best way to track the virus, slow the spread and take pressure off the health systems.

“The good news is that there has been a great deal of success in slowing the virus and ultimately saving lives. 

However, such strong measures have come at a cost and we recognize the serious socio-economic impact of the lockdowns, which have had a detrimental effect on many people’s lives”, said Ghebreyesus.

He said there are three key questions countries should ask prior to the lifting of lockdowns:

First, is the epidemic under control?

Second, is the healthcare system able to cope with a resurgence of cases that may arise after relaxing certain measures?

Third, is the public health surveillance system able to detect and manage the cases and their contacts, and identify a resurgence of cases?

These three questions can help determine whether a lockdown can be released slowly or not. However, even with three positive answers, releasing lockdowns is both complex and difficult. 

“Over the weekend we saw signs of the challenges that may lie ahead. In the Republic of Korea, bars and clubs were shut as a confirmed case led to many contacts being traced.  In Wuhan, China, the first cluster of cases since their lockdown was lifted was identified”, Ghebreyesus remarked.

Germany has also reported an increase in cases since an easing of restrictions.

“Fortunately, all three countries have systems in place to detect and respond to a resurgence in cases.

“Early serological studies reflect that a relatively low percentage of the population has antibodies to COVID-19, which means most of the population is still susceptible to the virus”, Ghebreyesus added.

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