“We at the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of controlling this virus.”
When the WHO special envoy for covid-19, Dr. David Nabarro, was expressed thus in an interview with the British magazine The Spectator, surely he did not imagine the storm that his words would produce.
“Confinements have only one consequence that one should never, never underestimate, and that is that they make the poor much poorer,” the senior official also said during the interview, published over the weekend.
And, shortly after, numerous media and personalities began to ensure that WHO had backed down in his support for the confinements, with the president of the United States, Donald Trump, even going so far as to affirm that the organization had agreed with him.
“The World Health Organization has just admitted that it was right. The lockdowns are killing countries all over the world. The cure cannot be worse than the problem (…). A long battle, but they finally did the right thing“Trump said Monday through his Twitter account.
Although, as many people immediately pointed out to the US president, also via Twitter, in his response Nabarro was clear in indicating that the problem was using the confinements as “the main means of control.”
And as WHO spokesperson Margaret Ann Harris stressed to BBC Mundo, in reality that has always been the organization’s position, which has never stopped considering confinements as “one more weapon in the arsenal”.
“What we’ve always said is that lockdowns can help buy some timeespecially if there is abundant community transmission, “Harris explained.
“You can find yourself in a situation where the transmission is intense and, for different reasons, you cannot identify or trace all those affected. And, in those cases, perhaps you have to put the brakes on what people call confinement. , he told BBC Mundo.
“But our position is that then we would like to see governments and communities continuously do all other things that can help to slow down the transmission of the virus “, insisted the spokeswoman of the WHO.
On an individual level, those “things” include hand washing, physical distancing – and the use of masks, when that is not possible – as well as avoiding close contacts, crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
“While at the government level we would like to see better testing and monitoring systems, to ensure that all cases and all contacts of infected people are truly identified, and to ensure that all those people are self-isolating for the necessary time, “elaborated Harris.
“If all that is done – and there are many countries that have done very well – one reduces transmission and can keep society running,” he said.
All those points they were also made by Nabarro during his interview, in which he also recognized that confinements could be justified “to buy time, reorganize, regroup, redistribute resources and protect health personnel.”
“We really call on world leaders to stop using confinements as their main method of control. Develop better systems to do so. Work together and learn from others,” he also asked in his talk with The Spectator.
And, for Harris that last point is the most important of the facts by the WHO special envoy for covid-19.
“Dr. Nabarro was emphasizing, or commenting, that in some places some governments were perhaps not focusing on the other measures and were jumping directly into the confinements and warning that this is not the way,” Harris told BBC Mundo .
“Because in order for us as the human race to be able to live safely while the virus is circulating, we have to take all these other measures and do it consistently“he added.
In fact, for the WHO spokeswoman, many measures and restrictions should continue to be implemented even after a vaccine is available, to guarantee the safety of those who are not yet protected by it.
And the spokeswoman also stressed that, in the current circumstances, the lack of confinement it should not be construed as a return to normalcy.
“That has been a common mistake. Because people have been very good at putting up with the restrictions, but then when the confinement is lifted it’s like they got out of jail and they say: ‘Wow, now we’re going to get even,” he told BBC World.
“But that’s not how it works with this virus,” he recalled.
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