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Tread lightly, Covid-19 is 10 times more deadly than Swine flu, says WHO

While easing restrictions is an option for some countries, many low and middle income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America grapple with how to introduce these measures.

THE World Health Organisation (WHO), called on countries across the globe to take precautions when lifting control measures in place to combat Covid-19. This as WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the novel coronavirus to be 10 times deadlier than the 2009 swine flu. The announcement was made today during a virtual briefing.

With some countries under several weeks of social and economic restrictions, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Ghebreyesus urged the countries to be measured when phasing out restrictions.

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“We know that Covid-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly – 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic,” said Ghebreyesus.

“While Covid-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up. That means control measures must be lifted slowly, and with control. It cannot happen all at once,” he added.

Ghebreyesus stressed that control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place, including significant capacity for contact tracing.  While easing restrictions is an option for some countries, many low and middle income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America grapple with how to introduce these measures.

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“In countries with large poor populations, the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions used in some high-income countries may not be practical. Many poor people, migrants and refugees are already living in overcrowded conditions with few resources and little access to health care,” said Ghebreyesus.

With these concerns facing countries, WHO called on each government to assess its situation, while protecting all its citizens, especially the most vulnerable. To support countries in making these decisions, WHO published its updated strategic advice which includes six criteria for countries as they consider lifting restrictions.

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