Lifting lockdowns may cause new Covid-19 spike, but now we know how to respond – WHO envoy to RT
Countries should be able to swiftly identify and quarantine coronavirus hotspots instead of putting their whole societies on lockdown, but people must accept this ‘new reality’ for it to work, said WHO’s envoy to Russia.
“I do believe that there might be a surge [in Covid-19 cases], but we’ll be able to respond to it much quicker, having all the experience that we’ve got, unfortunately, over the last four months,” Dr Melita Vujnovic, who represents the World Health Organization in Russia, told RT when asked about the impact of the gradual lifting of lockdowns – that has begun in many countries – on the pandemic.
“It’s still uncharted territory,” but there’s a way to “help curb the epidemic and still allow for socio-economic life that the world needs,” she pointed out. However, “vigilance is needed” as the virus – which has already infected 4.29 million people and killed more than 293,000 around the globe – isn’t going away, and remains highly contagious.
Nations must develop “a capacity to quickly detect new cases, to quickly identify all the contacts, test them and quarantine them – instead of going for full lockdowns,” the health expert added.
“Unfortunately, we believe that it’s going to be a sort of a mode of operation until herd immunity is reached, probably through a vaccine that we still have to wait for.”
But with the right explanation, people will be able to accept the “new reality” and adapt to it, Vujnovic said. “Hygiene will get a new impetus” and most will realize that the way to behave is by “not being heroes by going sick to work… but staying isolated and making sure that we don’t infect others.”
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I do believe in people. People are very strong. They have adapted. They’ve managed to overcome cholera, plague, smallpox and various other diseases.
As for the coronavirus outbreak in Russia, there’s a “reason for optimism,” the WHO representative said. The country has recorded 242,271 cases and 2,212 Covid-19-related deaths, but a decrease in the average growth rate of the number of infected has been seen for over a week now, and the “extremely high” number of tests being carried out gives us grounds to believe that “we’re heading the right way.”
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