Measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus can only be lifted slowly, if the right public health measures are in place, including significant capacity for contact tracing, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.
“While COVID-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said at a news conference in Geneva, where journalists asked questions via video.
The U.S. and some countries in Europe have begun to consider the easing of some lockdown conditions around the novel coronavirus, and the WHO has said it is good for them to plan these carefully.
“That means control measures must be lifted slowly and with control. It cannot happen all at once,” said Tedros.
He reiterated that physical distancing restrictions are only part of the equation, and many other essential public health measures are needed.
“Each government must assess their situation, while protecting all their citizens, and especially the most vulnerable,” said Tedros.
Scientists had learned that since the outbreak nearly 110 days ago, the virus can spread more easily in crowded environments like nursing homes.
Tedros also said that while some countries are considering to ease restrictions, others are pondering whether to introduce them – especially many low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
“In countries with large poor populations, the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions used in some high-income countries may not be practical,” he said