Re-opening without controlling the virus is a recipe for disaster: WHO chief

“If countries are serious about opening, they must be serious about supressing transmission and saving lives,” WHO chief says.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO) fully supports the efforts to reopen economies and societies but opening up without any control is a recipe for disaster.

“We want to see children returning to school and people returning to the workplace, but we want to see it done safely. At the same time, no country can just pretend that the pandemic is over. The reality is that this coronavirus spreads easily, it can be fatal to people of all ages and most people remain susceptible,” WHO Director General said.

“Eight months into the pandemic, we understand that people are tired and yearn to get on with their lives. We understand that countries want to get their societies and economies going again. That’s what WHO wants too. Stay-at-home orders and other restrictions are something that some countries felt they needed to do to take pressure off their health systems. But they have taken a heavy toll on livelihoods, economies and mental health,” Dr. Tedros added.

“This may seem like an impossible balance, but it’s not. It can be done and it has been done. But it can only be done if countries are in control of the transmission. The more control countries have over the virus, the more they can open up.”

However, he clearly warned that opening up without having control is a recipe for disaster.

Tedros said, “It’s not ‘one size fits all’, it’s not ‘all or nothing’. We believe there are four essential things that all countries, communities and individuals must focus on to take control. First, prevent amplifying events. Covid-19 spreads very efficiently among clusters of people.”

WHO has said that many countries has seen explosive outbreaks linked to gatherings of people at stadiums, nightclubs, places of worship and in other crowded places.

Countries or communities experiencing significant community transmission may need to postpone events for a short time to reduce transmission.