Dr. Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

WHO stresses virus prevention plans as countries reopen economies

*Countries must prioritise suppression of pandemic transmission, safety of lives as they reopen, says WHO Chief

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As several countries across the world are ‘eager’ to reopen their economies and borders for activities to resume, following months of lockdowns and attendant disruptions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stressed the need for effective COVID-19 prevention plans in place.

Dr. Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, who gave the advice at a recent media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, stated that he had observed the eagerness of countries to “get their economies going again”, eight months into the Coronavirus pandemic, says agency report.

If countries are serious about opening, they must prioritise suppression of transmission and safety of lives.

The Director-General of the UN health body warned that opening up without efficient and effective prevention measures in place was “a recipe for disaster”.

According to Dr. Ghebreyesus, this might seem an impossible balance, but it could be done if countries were in control of transmission.

He said: “The more control they have, the more they can open. The reality is that Coronavirus spreads easily.

“It can be fatal for people of all ages and most people remain susceptible.

“To control transmission, it is essential to prevent events that lead to outbreaks.”

He stated the virus spreads efficiently among clusters of people.

“Explosive outbreaks” are linked to gatherings at sports stadiums, nightclubs and places of worship, stated he.

While noting that there were ways to hold gatherings safely, Ghebreyesus said decisions about how and when must be made with a risk-based approach, tailored to local conditions.

He stressed that countries experiencing significant community transmission might need to postpone such events, and those witnessing sporadic cases or small clusters can find creative ways to hold events while minimising risk.

He called for emphasis on reduction of deaths by protecting the elderly, people with underlying conditions and essential workers.

“Countries that do this well may be able to cope with low levels of transmission as they open.

“Individuals must play their part by staying at least a metre away from others, cleaning their hands regularly, practising respiratory etiquette by wearing a mask, and avoiding close-contact settings, he advised.

The WHO Chief added that “for governments, widespread stay-at-home orders can be avoided if they take temporary, geographically targeted interventions.

“It is important to find, isolate, test and care for COVID-19 cases – and both trace and quarantine contacts.”

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