The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on countries to use their lockdown and social distancing measure to attack COVID-19.
The charge was given by WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus at the media briefing on COVID-19.
While noting that the pandemic continues to take a massive toll not just on health, but on so many parts of life, he lauded the Japanese Government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for taking a difficult but wise decision to postpone this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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“I thank Prime Minister Abe and the members of the IOC for making this sacrifice to protect the health of athletes, spectators and officials.
“We look forward to next year’s Olympics and Paralympics, which we hope will be an even bigger and better celebration of our shared humanity – and I look forward to joining.”
This will pass
The WHO boss who also pointed out that many pandemics have been overcome before, he expressed confidence that this will also pass as well but there will be sacrifices.
“The question is how large a price we will pay. Already we have lost more than 16,000 lives. We know we will lose more – how many more will be determined by the decisions we make and the actions we take now.
“To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries have introduced unprecedented measures, at significant social and economic cost – closing schools and businesses, cancelling sporting events and asking people to stay home and stay safe.
“We understand that these countries are now 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.”
While noting that asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems, he said these measures will not extinguish epidemics.
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“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 who have introduced so-called “lockdown” measures to use this time to attack the virus.”
Having created a second window of opportunity, the WHO recommended six key actions to be taken to fight the virus.
“First, expand, train and deploy your health care and public health workforce;
“Second, implement a system to find every suspected case at a community level;
“Third, ramp up the production, capacity and availability of testing;
“Fourth, identify, adapt and equip facilities you will use to treat and isolate patients;
“Fifth, develop a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts;
“And sixth, refocus the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.”
These measures he said are the best way to suppress and stop transmission so that when restrictions are lifted, the virus doesn’t resurge.
“The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence.
“Aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions – they’re also the best way to prevent them.
“More than 150 countries and territories still have fewer than 100 cases. By taking the same aggressive actions now, these countries have the chance to prevent community transmission and avoid some of the more severe social and economic costs seen in other countries.
“This is especially relevant for many vulnerable countries whose health systems may collapse under the weight of the numbers of patients we’ve seen in some countries with community transmission.”
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