The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded a stern warning against lifting coronavirus restrictions too soon, saying it could lead to a deadly resurgence.
WHO issued the warning on Friday as some of the European countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to see signs of slowing in infections.
“In the past week, we’ve seen a welcome slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, like Spain, Italy, Germany and France,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a regular press briefing.
As “some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions,” the WHO chief warned that “lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence.” “The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly,” he said.
The WHO chief stressed that decision of lifting restrictions should be made on the following conditions:
- That transmission is controlled;
- That sufficient public health and medical services are available;
- That outbreak risks in special settings like long-term care facilities are minimized;
- That preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other places where it’s essential for people to go;
- That importation risks can be managed;
- That communities are fully aware and engaged in the transition.
Globally, 1.7million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to the WHO, as well as more than 100,000 deaths. He underlined that the WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.
Denmark is one of the countries planning to ease restriction. The Scandinavian country, has over 5,000 cases of coronavirus and a total of 237 fatalities. But it said it has seen deaths and hospital admissions stabilise in recent days. From Wednesday, it will reopen schools and day care centres.
Remaining lockdown measures, such as the closure of bars, restaurants, shopping complexes and bans of public gatherings of more than 10 people, will stay in place for at least another month.