Attack the Coronavirus during lockdown, urges WHO

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The World Health Organisation has called on all countries who have introduced “lockdown” measures to use this time to attack the Coronavirus.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries have introduced unprecedented measures at significant social and economic cost – closing schools and businesses, cancelling sporting events and asking people to stay home and stay safe.

“Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems.

“But on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics. We call on all countries to use this time to attack the Coronavirus. You've created a 2nd window of opportunity,” said the WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation confirmed 416 686 cases around the world, affecting 196 countries with 18 589 deaths recorded.

The call by WHO comes as South Africa prepares to enter a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in bid to curb the rapid spread of the virus.

For countries going into lockdown, WHO recommended six key actions that can assist in defeating the scourge of COVID-19. 

First, expansion, training and deployment of healthcare workers; second, the tracing of every suspected case at community level; third, ramping up the production, capacity and availability of testing.

“Fourth, identify, adapt and equip facilities you will use to treat and isolate patients. Fifth, develop a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts.

“And sixth, refocus the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19,” said Ghebreysus.

These measures, WHO said, are the best way to suppress and stop transmission, so that when restrictions are lifted, the virus does not resurge.

“The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence.

“Aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions – they’re also the best way to prevent them,” said Ghebreyesus.

More than 150 countries and territories still have fewer than 100 cases.

By taking the same aggressive actions now, Ghebreyesus said countries have the chance to prevent community transmission and avoid some of the more severe social and economic costs seen in other countries.

“This is especially relevant for many vulnerable countries whose health systems may collapse under the weight of the numbers of patients we've seen in some countries with community transmission,” he said.  –

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