“The resurgence of Covid-19 cases in South Korea, China and Germany following the lifting of the stay at home restrictions demonstrates the complexity of easing these measures”, Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization said at the WHO’s latest press briefing on Tuesday.
This was in response to reports that a confirmed case of Covid-19 in South Korea has been further traced to thousands of possible contacts, leading to the closure of nightclubs and bars.
Wuhan, China also identified a new string of cases after lifting the lockdown a month ago. Germany has also recorded an increase in infected people, after only recently experiencing a reprieve from the Coronavirus.
“Fortunately, all three countries have systems in place to detect and respond to a resurgence in cases”, Tedros said.
“Early sentological studies reflect that a relatively low percentage of the population has antibodies to Covid-19, which means most of the population are still susceptible to the virus”, he warned.
Also speaking at the briefing, WHO Executive Director Michael Ryan urged continuous vigilance and caution, stressing the increased risk of new outbreaks as people mix.
“The question is, can we reach a point where we have strong public health measures in places where we can investigate clusters of cases and surpress these clusters without going back to the intense transmission patterns of before”, Ryan said. “And that is what we are trying to avoid”, he added.
Chief Tedros acknowledged the socio-economic impact of the lockdown, even as strict measures have proven successful in slowing the dreaded community transmission phase.
“Therefore, to protect lives and livelihoods, a slow, steady lifting of lockdowns is key to both stimulating economies, while also keeping a vigilant eye on the virus so that control measures can be quickly implemented if an upswing in cases is identified”, he said.
Chief Tedros further revealed a three question guideline for countries to follow in determining whether or not to fully call off a lockdown.
“WHO recommends countries answer these 3 questions to determine how to release a lockdown:
-is the epidemic under control?
-is the health system able to cope with a resurgence of cases?
-is the surveillance system able to detect & manage the cases & their contacts?”, he listed on his official Twitter account.
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