WHO fears “deadly resurgence” of pandemic in case of hasty deconfinement

WHO fears

WHO warns of the premature lifting of containment measures taken to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

© REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes

Premature lifting of containment measures taken to stem the spread of the new coronavirus could lead to a “deadly resurgence” of the pandemic, warned the boss of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday. “I know that some countries are already preparing the transition to break containment restrictions. Like everyone else, WHO would like to see the restrictions lifted. But lifting the restrictions too quickly could result in a deadly resurgence “of the pandemic, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Reflux [de la pandémie] could be as deadly as its spread if not managed properly, “he added during a virtual press conference in Geneva, headquarters of the UN agency. While China has reopened part of the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, the cradle of the pandemic that began in December, and the spread is showing signs of stabilization or decline in Europe, the authorities of several countries, including France, are beginning to envisage deconfinement in the more or less short term.

WHO says it is consulting the countries concerned to develop strategies for progressive and safe loosening. Six conditions must be met: control the transmission of the virus, ensure the provision of public health and care, minimize the risk in exposed environments such as long-term health facilities, put in place preventive measures at work, in schools and other places frequented, control the risk of imported cases and finally empower the populations. “Everyone has a role to play in overcoming the pandemic,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Ebola resists in DRC

In the absence of a vaccine, epidemiologists fear a “second wave” of contamination in the event of premature and disorderly deconfinement. Experts in epidemic modeling from the University of Hong Kong said that releasing controls early would cause almost as many new infections as in the first wave.

In France, the government has appointed a senior civil servant to prepare for deconfinement, but Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned that it is not yet topical, and that the confinement, in force since March 17, “will last”. With nearly 1.5 million people tested positive, including more than 92,000 dead, according to the WHO, the world remains in a state of “panic”, warned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

While Spain and Italy, the hardest hit countries in Europe, see a slowdown in the scourge, “we are seeing an alarming acceleration in other regions”, especially in Africa where the WHO fears “serious trials” to come due to lack of medical infrastructure.

In this regard, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced, together with the authorities in Kinshasa, a new case of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo while the end of the epidemic, which killed 2,273 people since its official declaration on August 1, 2018, was to be declared on Monday.

The WHO “remains on the ground, more than ever committed to working under the banner of the government, affected populations and our partners to curb the epidemic,” assured Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The Ebola epidemic is a “lesson” in the fight against Covid-19, said Michael Ryan, WHO emergency manager, in Geneva. “There is no exit strategy without total control of the situation, you must always be ready to start and start all over again,” he said.


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