WHO warns against lifting Covid-19 control measures too quickly

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World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against easing the Covid-19 control measures too quickly, saying the pandemic accelerates fast but decelerates much more slowly.

Tedros told a virtual news conference from Geneva, Switzerland, that control measures should be lifted slowly and not all at once.

“While Covid-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up. 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 measures are in place,” he said, adding that the right measures include significant capacity for contact tracing.

Tedros said his organisation will publish updated strategic advice today (Tuesday) to support countries and regions in making decisions on when they can lift the current social and economic restrictions for Covid-19 containment.

The new strategy will include six criteria for countries as they consider lifting restrictions:

  • First, that transmission is controlled;
  • Second, that health system capacities are in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact;
  • Third, that outbreak risks are minimised in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes;
  • Fourth, that importation risks can be managed;
  • And fifth, that communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the new situation.

The WHO chief also stressed that the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission.

Currently there are 70 coronavirus vaccines in development, with three already being tested in clinical trials.