All countries who have introduced lockdown measures should use the time to attack the virus.
“You have created a second window of opportunity. The question is, how will you use it?” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at yesterday’s (25 March) virtual press conference.
The first window of opportunity some weeks ago was to contain the spread of the virus to Europe but unfortunately EU and its member states missed that opportunity.
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 and other mass events and asking people to stay home and stay safe.
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,” the WHO Director-General said.
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 epidemics.
He explained that the point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives. There are six key actions that WHO recommends.
• First, expand, train and deploy your health care and public health workforce;
• Second, implement a system to find every suspected case at 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.
According to WHO, these measures 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.”