Ease curbs only in phases, WHO cautions countries
GENEVA: Countries that ease restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the coronavirus should wait at least two weeks to evaluate the impact of such changes before easing again, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday.
In its latest Strategy Update, the United Nations agency said the world stands at a "pivotal juncture" in the pandemic and that "speed, scale, and equity must be our guiding principles" when deciding what measures are necessary.
Every country should implement comprehensive public health measures to maintain a sustainable steady state of low-level or no transmission and prepare its surge capacity to react rapidly to control any spread, the WHO said.
Some of the countries hardest-hit by the virus are now considering lifting lockdowns and beginning the transition toward a resumption of normal life.
The WHO update said any such steps should be taken gradually, with time to evaluate their impact before new steps are taken.
"To reduce the risk of new outbreaks, measures should be lifted in a phased, step-wise manner based on an assessment of the epidemiological risks and socioeconomic benefits of lifting restrictions on different workplaces, educational institutions, and social activities...," the WHO said.
"Ideally there would be a minimum of two weeks (corresponding to the incubation period of Covid-19) between each phase of the transition, to allow sufficient time to understand the risk of new outbreaks and to respond appropriately," it added.
It warned that the "risk of re-introduction and resurgence of the disease will continue".
China has begun lifting some of the toughest restrictions imposed on Hubei province where the disease emerged towards the end of last year.
In the US, Mr Trump has jostled with some state governors over who has the authority to begin reopening businesses. - REUTERS