WHO warns against rushed end to coronavirus lockdowns

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday that countries emerging from restrictions to halt the new coronavirus must proceed “extremely carefully” or risk a rapid rise in new cases.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries needed to ensure they had adequate measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory disease like tracking systems and quarantine provision.

“The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully and in a phased approach,” he said at a virtual briefing in Geneva.

WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove supported his concerns about the disease which has infected 3.71 million globally and killed more than 258,000 people, according to a Reuters tally.

“If lockdown measures are lifted too quickly, the virus can take off,” Van Kerkhove told the briefing.

Government-ordered lockdowns have become increasingly unpopular as countries suffer rising unemployment and economic activity grinds to a halt.

The eurozone economy will contract by a record 7.7% this year because of the pandemic, while U.S. private employers laid off 20.2 million workers last month as business shut their doors.

Some countries, like Germany, Spain and Italy have started to relax restrictions, while the U.S. President Trump has said his focus is on opening up the country again.

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