WHO sets out criteria for countries lifting lockdown
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
As more and more countries consider how to ease lockdown restrictions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended criteria for nations to consider.
During his media briefing today, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus list the six criteria:
- Surveillance must be strong; cases are declining and transmission is controlled;
- Health system capacities are in place to detect, isolate, test and treat every case and trace every contact;
- Outbreak risks are minimised in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes;
- Preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other places where it’s essential for people to go;
- Importation risks can be managed;
- Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the “new norm”
Dr. Ghebreyesus noted that the risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition periods extremely carefully, and implement a phased approach.
More than 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 250,000 deaths have now been reported globally. Since the beginning of April, an average of around 80,000 new cases has been reported to WHO every day.
“But these are not just numbers – every single case is a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a brother, sister or friend” the Director-General emphasised.
Dr. Ghebreyesus explained that although the number of cases reported from Western Europe is declining, more cases are being reported every day from Eastern Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Americas.
“However, even within regions and within countries we see divergent trends. Every country and every region need a tailored approach. But the impact of the pandemic goes far beyond the numbers of cases and deaths. Around the world, the pandemic has caused severe disruption to essential health services – including to community-based health care.”
He noted that while professional health workers like doctors and nurses play crucial roles, in many countries other trained members in communities play a vital role in delivering essential health services like vaccination, prenatal screening, and the detection, prevention and management of many diseases.
Additionally, today, WHO, UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross have published guidance for countries on how to maintain community-based health care in the context of COVID-19.
It includes practical recommendations for countries on sustaining essential services at the community level, leveraging community health workers for the response to COVID-19 while keeping them safe, and advice for how to adapt services for specific diseases and age groups.
For example, it suggests using telemedicine wherever possible and leaving insecticide-treated nets for malaria at the door of households, instead of asking people to collect them from a central location.