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Lifting virus lockdowns too shortly might spark lethal resurgence: WHO

Any untimely lifting of restrictions imposed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic might result in a deadly resurgence of the brand new coronavirus, the World Health Organisation warned Friday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned that whereas some states have been contemplating methods to ease the restrictions which have positioned round half of humanity beneath some type of lockdown, doing so too shortly may very well be harmful.

“I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone,” he instructed a digital press convention in Geneva.

“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly. WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.”

Tedros spelled out six elements that must be thought-about earlier than restrictions may very well be safely eased. Those are:

(a) transmission must be managed;

(b) adequate public well being companies made obtainable;

(c) outbreak dangers in care properties minimised;

(d) preventative measures imposed in workplaces and colleges;

(e) virus importation dangers managed;

(f) communities made conscious of and engaged within the transition.

The international demise toll has gone over 100,000.

More than 1.6 million infections have been recorded globally, in response to an AFP tally, because the virus first emerged in China in December.

Tedros welcomed indicators that its unfold was slowing in a few of the hardest-hit international locations in Europe — citing Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

But he additionally warned of an “alarming acceleration” of the virus elsewhere, highlighting Africa, the place he mentioned it was starting to emerge in rural areas.

“We are now seeing clusters of cases and community spread in more than 16 countries” on the continent, the previous Ethiopian well being minister mentioned.

“We anticipate severe hardship for already overstretched health systems, particularly in rural areas, which normally lack the resources of those in cities.” Tedros mentioned even the international locations with the world’s strongest well being methods had been caught unexpectedly by COVID-19. He urged them to strengthen their healthcare provision relatively than plunge right into a “cycle of panic and neglect”.

In many international locations, “we’re now in a phase of panic because there is this dangerous, invisible virus which is wreaking havoc,” he mentioned.

“But that should actually lead into asking questions on what to do to strengthen our system. No country is immune.”

The WHO director-general additionally mentioned he was notably involved by the massive numbers of circumstances being recorded amongst well being employees — with greater than 10 per cent reportedly contaminated in some nations.

“When health workers are at risk, we’re all at risk,” he mentioned.

Tedros mentioned proof from some international locations, together with China, Italy and the United States, confirmed that well being employees have been being contaminated outdoors healthcare services, of their properties and communities.

Switching to the Ebola outbreak within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he mentioned a brand new case had been reported, simply three days earlier than a deadline that will have marked the official finish to the lengthy epidemic.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan mentioned some 2,600 alerts have been nonetheless being investigated daily within the DRC, with hundreds of samples taken each week.

“Maybe that’s our lesson for COVID-19: there is no exit strategy until you’re in control of the situation, and you must always be ready to go back again and start again,” he mentioned.

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