In the wake of the deadly novel coronavirus, countries across the world focussed on lockdowns to contain the spread of infections. But with economies hurting, and people getting restless, lockdowns are now being lifted gradually. It is in this context that the WHO has issued a warning to the world.
As AFP reported, the World Health Organization on Monday hailed dwindling COVID-19 infection rates and deaths in some countries, but called on nations to show "extreme vigilance" as they begin loosening their restrictions
WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryann urged countries to boost their public health responses, ensuring they can identify fresh cases, and trace and isolate all contacts, which he said could help "avoid a major second wave". But he warned that while "many countries have made very systematic investments in building up their public health capacities during the lockdowns, others have not."
The WHO warned against the notion in some countries that even if they do not take the measures needed to halt the spread of the virus, their populations will quickly build so-called "herd immunity". "Early serological studies reflect that a relatively low percentage of the population has antibodies to COVID-19," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, pointing out that this means "most of the population is still susceptible to the virus."
Preliminary results were "showing the opposite... that the proportion of people with significant clinical illness is actually a higher proportion" than previously thought, Ryan said, stressing that "this is a serious disease". "This idea that maybe countries that have lax measures... will all of a sudden magically reach some herd immunity, and so what if we lose a few old people along the way... is a really dangerous, dangerous calculation," he said.