This follows the World Health Organisation’s announcement that each country must meet a strict set of criteria before easing social distancing measures.
“While COVID-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly,” the WHO’s Director-General Tedros Ashanom Ghebreyesus explained in a press conference in Geneva earlier this week.
“That means control measures must be lifted slowly and with control. It cannot happen all at once. Control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place, including significant capacity for contract trading.”
Dr Tedros outlined six requirements, as follows:
- Community transmission is controlled;
- Health system capacities are in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact;
- Outbreak risks are minimised in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes;
- Preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other places where it’s essential for people to go;
- Importation risks can be managed;
- Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the “new norm”.
Dr Tedros said that it’s paramount we begin to “strike a balance” between measures that reduce deaths and returning to business as usual.
“As the pandemic has spread, its public health and socioeconomic impacts have been profound,” he continued, adding that all decisions must be made with the fact that the virus is highly infectious in mind. “We know that COVID-19 spreads fast and we know that it is deadly – 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic.”