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Blockages are not enough to defeat coronavirus: WHO ryan

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LONDON: Countries cannot simply block their societies to beat the coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert said on Sunday, adding that public health measures are needed to prevent a resurgence of the virus later.

“What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolating them, finding their contacts and isolating them,” said Mike Ryan in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

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“The danger right now with blockages … if we don’t implement strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and blockages are lifted, the danger is that the disease will rise again.”

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Much of Europe and the United States have followed China and other Asian countries and have introduced drastic restrictions to combat the new coronavirus, and most workers must work from home and closed schools, bars, pubs, and restaurants.

Ryan said the examples from China, Singapore and South Korea, which coupled restrictions with rigorous measures to assess all possible suspects, provided a model for Europe, which the WHO says has replaced Asia as the epicenter of the pandemic.

“Once we have suppressed transmission, we have to go after the virus. We have to fight the virus,” Ryan said.

Italy is now the country hardest hit by the virus in the world, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that Britain’s health system could be overwhelmed unless people avoid social interactions. British Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said test production would double next week and increase thereafter.

Ryan also said several vaccines were being developed, but only one had started trials in the United States. When asked how long it would be before a vaccine was available in Britain, he said that people had to be realistic.

“We have to make sure it is absolutely safe … we are talking for at least a year,” he said.

“Vaccines will come, but we have to go out and do what we have to do now.”

Times of India

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