The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern over possible intentions by countries to end their restriction of movements ‘too soon.’
Many countries have imposed movement restrictions on citizens to check the spread of the coronavirus which has caused over 100,000 deaths globally and infected almost two million people.
The director-general of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, at a press conference Friday said lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence.
He said the coronavirus appears to be slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe like Spain, Italy, Germany and France; however, lifting stay-at-home orders too soon could lead to a “deadly resurgence.”
“WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone. At the same time, the way down can be as dangerous as the way up, if not managed properly,” he said.
According to Mr Ghebreyesus, there has been an “alarming acceleration” of cases in other countries, especially in Africa. He said that the WHO is now seeing clusters of cases and community spread, where the virus spreads without a known source, in more than 16 countries in Africa, which poses a threat to already overstretched health-care systems.
Before social distancing restrictions can be lifted, Mr Ghebreyesus said each country needs to consider whether the virus’ transmission is controlled, if sufficient medical services are available and if outbreak risks in special settings like long-term care facilities are minimised.
He said preventive measures must also be in place at respective workplaces and schools.
“Countries who relatively have the strongest health system have been actually surprised by this pandemic,” he said. “It shows that any system could have gaps and we should have the humility to see to what extent our system is prepared, where are the gaps and how we can improve it for the future.”
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Like the WHO, the Nigeria Medical Association has also cautioned state governments against early lifting of movement restrictions.
In a statement jointly signed by its President, Francis Faduyile, and Secretary, Olumuyiwa Odusote, the NMA warned against early relaxation of such directives.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the federal government imposed a lockdown on Lagos, Abuja and Ogun, while many state governments did something similar in their states.
However, some of the state government’s have been relaxing the order, some because of this weekend’s Easter celebration.
“While appreciating the prime place of religion in our national lives and especially the value Christians place on Easter, we place on record that there is now the evidence of community transmission of COVID-19. As such, relaxing any guidelines that promotes mass gatherings in any part of our nation Now can only heighten and not flatten the curve of transmission dynamics,” the doctors’ association said.
The association called on law enforcement agencies to help prevent any mass gatherings that will take place in the period of the lock down.
The decision by some state governments to relax the lockdown in their states coincides with a reported plan by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to advise President Muhammed Buhari on the possibility of having a nationwide lockdown.
The president on Saturday urged Nigerians to continue to abide by the restriction orders in their states. He is also expected to announce an extension of the restrictions in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.
Since its importation into the country, the confirmed cases of coronavirus have been on the increase in Nigeria. The number stood at 318 as of April 11, according to the data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Ten people have died from the disease in the country while over 70 have recovered and have been discharged.
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