by Badejo Oluwaseun
The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly warns against lifting social distancing measures too soon on Wednesday. “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” he said.
Ghebreyesus said, Aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions but also to prevent them. This is especially relevant for many countries with vulnerable health systems. “Although we’re especially concerned about vulnerable countries, all countries have vulnerable populations, including older people. They carry the collective wisdom of our societies and we need to work together to protect them from the coronavirus and to ensure their needs are being met,” he said.
According to him, we understand that countries are trying to assess when and how they will be able to ease these measures, the answer depends on what countries do while these population-wide measures are in place. “Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems, but on their own, these measures will not extinguish the epidemics,” he said. Ghebreyesus said that the point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives. “We call on all countries that have introduced so-called “lockdown” measures to use this time to attack the virus. You have created a second window of opportunity.”
He added that the question is: how will you use it? , noting that there are 6 key actions that we recommend:
1. Expand, train, and deploy your health care and public health workforce
2. Implement a system to find every suspected case at the community level
3. Ramp up production capacity and availability of testing
4. Identify, adapt, and equip facilities you will use to treat patients
5. Develop a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts
6. Refocus the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19
These measures are the best way to suppress and stop transmission so that when restrictions are lifted, the virus doesn’t resurge.