World • 27 March, 2020

WHO suggests measures to battle coronavirus

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WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggested six measures to battle coronavirus at the media briefing.

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.

We understand that these countries are now trying to assess when and how they will be able to ease these measures, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The answer depends on what countries do while these population-wide measures are in place.

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.

The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives.

We call on all countries who have introduced so-called “lockdown” measures to use this time to attack the virus.

You have created a second window of opportunity. The question is, how will you use it?

There are six key actions that we recommend.

First, expand, train and deploy your health care and public health workforce;

Second, implement a system to find every suspected case at community level;

Third, ramp 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.

These measures are the best way to suppress and stop transmission, so that when restrictions are lifted, the virus doesn’t 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.

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

By taking the same aggressive actions now, these 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.

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