The WHO has recommended that the lifting of COVID-19 quarantine measures proceed “steadily and slowly.
Geneva, February 1 (Xinhua News Agency)The World Health Organization on Monday called on countries that have begun lifting quarantine restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic to take a steady, slow approach to gradually “unlock-down”, as recent figures showed a sharp increase in reported deaths around the world.Who Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference that nearly 90 million confirmed cases of omictron (mutant strain) have been reported to WHO since the virus was first identified 10 weeks ago. This is more than the number of cases reported in the whole of 2020.We are now beginning to see a very worrying increase in the number of deaths in most parts of the world.”Tedros again expressed concern that some countries believe that “preventing the spread of COVID-19 is neither feasible nor necessary because of widespread vaccination and the highly transmissible but milder omicron strain”.”More transmission means more deaths.We are not calling for any country to return to a so-called lockdown, but for all countries to do what they can to protect their populations, not just by relying on vaccines.It is too early for any country to surrender or declare victory.”Maria van Kelkhofer, technical director of who’s Health Emergencies programme, also told a news conference that more than 22 million confirmed cases had been reported to WHO from around the world in the past seven days, with the surge mainly caused by the Omikron strain.But what is more worrying now is that the number of deaths around the world has also risen sharply in the past four weeks.She said it shouldn’t have happened because there are tools and measures in place to prevent it.Van Kelkhofer urged caution in countries that are beginning to lift COVID-19 restrictions, as many countries have yet to pass the peak of the omicron strain and “now is not the time to lift all [quarantine] measures at once.”She suggested that in the context of novel Coronavirus activity, these countries should lift restrictions in a steady, slow and gradual manner.Michael Ryan, executive Director of who’s Health Emergencies Program, also said that countries should chart their own path in lifting restrictions based on their own circumstances and at their own pace. They can learn from the experience and practices of other countries, but they should not blindly follow suit.He cautioned that countries that decide to relax containment also need to ensure they have the capacity to quickly reintroduce restrictions that are acceptable to their communities if needed.(after)