“You can’t replace lockdowns with nothing.”
World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. CREDIT: UN Photo
KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 —- The World Health Organisation (WHO) released new guidance for governments looking for exit strategies beyond existing lockdown measures.
For many countries currently under lockdowns which have crippled or stalled economies, the answer of when and how to ease restrictions has not been easily answered or forthcoming.
“We understand that these countries are now trying to assess when and how to ease these measures,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“The answer depends on what countries do while these wide measures are in place.”
Six criteria were identified in WHO’s guidance document to ensure that governments would be able to manage a controlled and deliberate transition from community transmission to a steady state of low level or no transmission.
Any government that wants to start lifting restrictions must first meet six conditions:
- Transmission of Covid-19 is under control
- Health systems and public health capacity are able to detect, test, isolate and quarantine every case and trace every contact#
- Hot spot risks are minimized in highly vulnerable places, such as nursing homes
- Preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand washing in workplaces have been establised
- Controlled and managed risk of new import cases from travellers
- Populations are fully engaged, understand and empowered to live under a new state of “normality”#
“You can’t replace lockdowns with nothing,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme. “We don’t want to lurch from lockdown to nothing to lockdown to nothing.”
“We need to have a much more stable exit strategy that allows us to move carefully and persistently away from lockdown.”
WHO has said that in most countries, it is too soon to get back to normal. Ending lockdowns prematurely in an attempt to restart economies could result in the reemergence of infections.
There are currently more than 2 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide and more than 130,000 people have already died.
APRIL 16, 2020
New Zealand's Ardern says many restrictions to be kept in place when lockdown ends
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that significant restrictions would be kept in place even if the country eases the nationwide one-month lockdown enforced to beat the spread of the coronavirus.
New Zealand introduced its highest, level 4 lockdown measures in March, under which offices, schools and all non-essential services like bars, restaurants, cafes and playgrounds were shut down. A decision on whether to lift the lockdown would be made on April 20.
The measures were tougher than most other countries, including neighbouring Australia, where some businesses were allowed to operate.
Ardern said if New Zealand moves to the lower level 3 of restriction, it would permit aspects of the economy to reopen in a safe way but there will be no “rush to normality”.
“We have an opportunity to do something no other country has achieved, eliminating the virus,” Ardern said at a news conference.
New Zealand reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the total to 1,401 in a nation of about 5 million people. There have been nine deaths.
Ardern said under level 3, some people could return to work and businesses reopen if they are able to provide contactless engagement with customers.
Shops, malls, hardware stores and restaurants will remain shut but can permit online or phone purchases.
Schools can open partially up to year 10 but attendance is voluntary, Ardern said, adding that for children who are able, distance learning is still the best option.
Funerals and weddings will be able to go ahead, but limited to 10 people. But they can only be services and no meals, food or receptions can take place.
“By design, Level 3 is a progression, not a rush to normality. It carries forward many of the restrictions in place at Level 4, including the requirement to mainly be at home in your bubble and to limit contact with others,” Ardern said.
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
New Zealand cites new deaths in case against lifting coronavirus lockdown
Fri, 17 Apr 2020
WELLINGTON - New Zealand justified its tough lockdown policies despite a significant drop in the number of coronavirus cases on Friday, with officials citing two new deaths as evidence of the risk from lifting social restrictions too soon.
The country reported just eight fresh COVID-19 cases, the first single digit increase in weeks, taking to the total to 1,409.
However, the two new deaths took the death toll to 11, around half of which are linked to an elderly care home in Christchurch.
"This serves as a sombre reminder that we need to continue to stay home to stay lives and break the chain of transmission," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said at a news conference.
Offices, schools and all non-essential services like bars, restaurants, cafes and playgrounds have been closed for almost a month as part of New Zealand's "Level 4" lockdown. The government is due to make a decision on whether to extend, lift or ease the lockdown on Monday.
Robertson warned people not to expect a major change to the current restrictions, which also limit public movement.
"A little longer now on level 4 or level 3, is ultimately better for the economy than an early exit and potential return to lockdown," Robertson said.
New Zealand, with a population of just over 5 million, has reported fewer cases than other nations following its tough lockdown regime, but, again like others, has had to balance the economic impacts of the shutdown.
Several countries, including Britain, India and Australia, have extended social distancing policies over the past week, while others, such as Singapore and Japan, have reintroduced lockdowns after being hit by a second wave of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.