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Countries must ease lockdowns slowly, be ready for virus to jump back - WHO

GENEVA, 2 May 2020, TON:   World Health Organization (WHO) top emergencies expert Dr. Mike Ryan  said,  countries must lift lockdowns gradually, while still being “on the look-out” for COVID-19 and ready to restore restrictions if the virus jumps back. He said, vulnerable people in institutions, including those in long-term care facilities, prisons and migrant dormitories, must be protected and even if the virus is coming under control, communities must know to still follow physical distancing and hygiene measures, and testing of suspect cases must continue.

The virus has spread in facilities for the elderly in Europe and North America, while in Singapore it has infected migrant workers in dormitories, he said, adding: “Because a spark in a situation like that turns into a fire very very quickly.”

Ryan acknowledged the difficulty for governments to maintain lockdowns during the pandemic, “for social, psychological and economic reasons” and apologized for severe measures, “So we are very anxious that we can move to a situation where the disease can kept under control with less severe measures.”

He claimed that there are worrying trends of spread in countries from Haiti to Somalia and Yemen, Ryan said. He also cited Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sierre Leone, Central African Republic, and a “serious cluster” in Kano, northern Nigeria. He clarified, regarding the new coronavirus that first emerged late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, he reiterated that scientists examining its genetic sequences have assured the WHO that “this virus is natural in origin”.

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