COVID-19: WHO warns against complacency amid progress

Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, has warned against complacency in countries that were making progress against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during his daily news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday, Ghebreyesus emphasised that complacency was “one of the greatest dangers’’ we face now.

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“There is no question that stay-at-home orders and other physical distancing measures have successfully suppressed transmission in many countries.

“But this virus remains extremely dangerous, and the evidence is that most of the world’s populations remains susceptible, that means the epidemic can easily reignite.

“One of the greatest dangers we face now is complacency,’’ he said.

He acknowledged the suffering and frustration of people confined to their homes for weeks by stay-at-home orders imposed by their governments to check the spread of the virus.

The WHO, he said, understood the hardships occasioned by such orders and the people’s desires to get on with their lives.

“But the world will not and cannot go back to the way things were. There must be a new norm: a world that is healthier safer and better prepared.

“The same public health measures we have been advocating since the beginning of the pandemic must remain the backbone of the response in all countries:

“Find every case; isolate every case; test every case; care for every case; trace and quarantine every contact, and educate, engage and empower your people.

“The fight cannot be effective without empowering our people and without full participation of all,’’ he said.

Ghebreyesus’s counsel came as the United States, which had been the epicenter of the pandemic, prepared to reopen for business, after some progress, meaning social distancing measures would be relaxed.

“The data suggests that nationwide,  we are past the peak,’’ President Donald Trump said while announcing a three-phase reopening plan on Thursday.

“These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalise guidelines for states on reopening the country,” he said.

There have also been protests in many states in the U.S. against lockdowns imposed by governors to slow the spread of the disease, which had killed no fewer than 43,000 people in the country.

Public health experts warned that relaxing social distancing rules could get the curve back on an upward trajectory.(NAN)

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