Even after the current spate of the novel coronavirus pandemic is over, there can be “no going back to business as usual”, the World Health Organization warned world leaders on Wednesday. Many countries are hoping to kickstart their economies that have been ravaged by extended lockdowns and closure of businesses to fend of the spread of the pandemic.
“This virus likes to find opportunities to spread and if these lockdown measures are lifted too quickly, the virus can take off,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s lead scientist on Covid-19, said during a press conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters.
“The only way to control and suppress this virus, this Covid-19, is to actually find [cases], quarantine those contacts, isolate the cases and it will be brought under control.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, more than 3.6 million people worldwide have been infected by Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coroanvirus, with death s of at least 257,818 since it emerged in Wuhan, China over four months ago.
Countries cannot “let preparedness go by the wayside. As we work on responding to this pandemic, we must also work harder to prepare for the next one. Now is an opportunity to lay the foundations for resilient health systems around the world, which has been ignored for long,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Tedros said that while the number of fresh confirmed cases of Covid-19 is on the decline every day in regions such as Western Europe, there are reports of increase in the number of fresh cases from countries and regions in Eastern Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Americas. He added that every day, an average of about 80,000 new cases is being reported to the global health agency.
“These are not just numbers. Every single case is a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a brother, sister or friend,” he said.
A word of caution was sounded by Tedros to those countries that are looking at easing down lockdowns and social distancing norms and other restrictions that had been imposed to slow down the spread of the pandemic. If countries do not manage the transition “extremely carefully”, the risk of a rebound in cases and a consequent returning to lockdown “remains very real”, he said.
For example, some states in the United States are planning to open up their economies and businesses even in the face to various epidemiological models suggesting that over the next couple of weeks, such actions will lead to a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Countries will need to create strategies to manage around the coronavirus for the foreseeable future, the WHO told countries last month, because while some countries report leveling off of cases, there is a peaking in other countries and resurgence in some areas where it was assumed that the disease had been brought under control.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)