The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that rushing to ease coronavirus restrictions would likely lead to a resurgence of the illness as governments in Europe began rolling out plans to lift quarantine measures to get their economies up and running again.
“This is not the time to be lax. Instead, we need to ready ourselves for a new way of living for the foreseeable future,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.
He said governments must remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus and the lifting of lockdowns and other social distancing measures must be done gradually and strike the right balance between keeping people healthy and allowing economies to function.
“As we move forward in this difficult time, our lives, our health system and approach to stopping transmission must continue to adapt and evolve along with the epidemic, at least until a vaccine or very effective treatment is found. This process will need to become our new normal,” Kasai said.
Around the globe, the game plan is to open up but maintain enough social distancing to prevent new flareups of the virus that has infected 2.4 million people worldwide, killed more than 165,000 and crippled the world economy.
The easing of the lockdowns "is not the end of the epidemic in any country. It’s just the beginning of the next phase,″ the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told G-20 health ministers in an online meeting on Monday.
He sternly warned governments not to rush to return to normal, saying: “It is critical that these measures are a phased process.”