The World Health Organisation lists six criteria to be verified when considering lifting restrictions. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: «The way down is much slower than the way up»
Almost two months have passed by since the Covid-19 virus started to spread all around the world. Many countries are facing several hard measures imposed by their governments in order to slow the rush of the disease and save as many lives as they can. However, along with the need of social distancing and “Stay at home” policies, many people and enterprises have started facing economic difficulties. Some countries are now considering the possibility of lifting these restrictions and some of them have already began doing it. For this reason the World Health Organisation has released a list of six criteria governments should keep in mind as they consider to loosen the measures.
«This is a new virus – clarifies the WHO Director General, dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – and the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. We know that COVID-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly, 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic. We know that the virus can spread more easily in crowded environments like nursing homes. We know that in some countries, cases are doubling every 3 to 4 days».
Then the warning: «However, while COVID-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up. That means control measures must be lifted slowly, and with control. It cannot happen all at once. Control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place, including significant capacity for contact tracing».
To help countries to make their decision, WHO wants to provide them with strategic advice the experts have accumulated. These are the criteria countries must verify as they consider lifting restrictions:
1) that transmission is controlled;
2) that health system capacities are in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact;
3) that outbreak risks are minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes;
4) that preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other places where it’s essential for people to go;
5) that importation risks can be managed;
6) that communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the “new norm”.
As the world goes on in this extremely new situation for all, WHO invites everyone to keep the most vulnerable parts of the society safe. Not all countries are the same, and for those «with large poor populations, the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions used in some high-income countries may not be practical. Many poor people, migrants and refugees are already living in overcrowded conditions with few resources and little access to health care».
«As the pandemic has spread – states dr. Ghebreyesus – its public health and socio-economic impacts have been profound, and have disproportionately affected the vulnerable. Many populations have already experienced a lack of access to routine, essential health services. Our global connectedness means the risk of re-introduction and resurgence of the disease will continue. Ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission».