Picture: Mark Lennihan/AP
Picture: Mark Lennihan/AP

Lockdowns not enough to defeat coronavirus, says WHO's top emergency expert

By Reuters Time of article published Mar 22, 2020

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London - Countries can't simply lock

down their societies to defeat coronavirus, the World Health

Organization's top emergency expert said on Sunday, adding that

public health measures are needed to avoid a resurgence of the

virus later on.

"What we really need to focus on is finding those who are

sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their

contacts and isolate them," Mike Ryan said in an interview on

the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"The danger right now with the lockdowns ... if we don't put

in place the strong public health measures now, when those

movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is

the disease will jump back up."

Much of Europe and the United States have followed China and

other Asian countries and introduced drastic restrictions to

fight the new coronavirus, with most workers told to work from

home and schools, bars, pubs and restaurants being closed.

Ryan said that the examples of China, Singapore and South

Korea, which coupled restrictions with rigorous measures to test

every possible suspect, provided a model for Europe, which the

WHO has said has replaced Asia as the epicentre of the pandemic.

"Once we've suppressed the transmission, we have to go after

the virus. We have to take the fight to the virus," Ryan said.

Italy is now the worst hit country in the world by the

virus, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that

Britain's health system could be overwhelmed unless people avoid

social interactions. British housing minister Robert Jenrick

said that production of tests would double next week and ramp up

thereafter.

Ryan also said that several vaccines were in development,

but only one had begun trials in the United States. Asked how

long it would take before there was a vaccine available in

Britain, he said that people needed to be realistic.

"We have to make sure that it's absolutely safe... we are

talking at least a year," he said.

"The vaccines will come, but we need to get out and do what

we need to do now."

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