World Health Organization warns against Lifting Lockdowns Too Early

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Countries must ease lockdowns slowly, be ready for virus to come back - WHO

World Health Organization warns against Lifting Lockdowns Too Early  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that a premature lifting of restrictions imposed to control the coronavirus pandemic could spark a deadly resurgence.

Globally, nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to the WHO, as well as more than 107,000 deaths.

World Health Organization, Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was working with countries on ways in which lockdowns could be gradually eased, but said doing so too quickly could be dangerous.

“The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly,” he said, underlining that the WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.

He was speaking at a regular news briefing from Geneva, and told the virtual conference that the organisation was working with governments to put together effective strategies for easing restrictions, but that this had to be approached with caution.

His comments come as Italy and Spain have already begun relaxing their measures, with a small number of businesses in Italy given permission to reopen next week. These include bookshops, launderettes and children’s clothing shops. Only food stores and pharmacies have been open so far.

Italy is also witnessing a drop in those hospitalized and those in intensive care, as total fatalities in the country amounted to 18,849 by Friday.

Nonetheless, Italy remains one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 150,000 infections. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday extended the country’s national coronavirus lockdown by “at least” additional 20 days to May 3.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that a further tightening of restrictions on daily life in Germany is not necessary at present.

“The curve is flattening out,” said Merkel at the Chancellery. The latest COVID-19 infection figures in Germany gave “reason for cautious hope.” But she stressed that it would be necessary to be “very, very careful” with relaxing the current restrictions.

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday proposed prolonging travel restriction at its external borders. 

The European Commission said in a statement that it invited Schengen member states and Schengen associated states to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until May 15.

The top U.S. infectious disease expert warned on Friday that even though hard-hit spots like New York are showing positive results in the battle against coronavirus, it is too early to relax restrictions on Americans.

Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said now is not the time to back off on restrictions, despite what he described as favourable signs in America’s early hotspots.

“We would want to see a clear indication that you were very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction, because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get out there prematurely and then wind up back in the same situation”, he told CNN.