October 30, 2020

The WHO says ‘total lockdown’ possible for countries after concerning surges in coronavirus cases

Virus response and social distancing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Jumping Rocks/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Top officials with the World Health Organization said that further lockdowns are possible across the world as some regions track surges in coronavirus cases after relaxing quarantine measures.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the organization’s Health Emergencies Program executive director, said at a Friday press conference that “there may be situations” in the near future of the novel coronavirus pandemic in which countries going back under full lockdowns “is the only option.”

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told member nations one day earlier that “the virus can be brought under control,” but surges indicate that “the virus is not under control, it’s getting worse.” On Friday, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases recorded in countries across the world had doubled in the span of six weeks.

In comments also reported by outlets like CBS News, Ryan said at the briefing “in our current situation it is very unlikely that we can eradicate or eliminate this virus,” pointing to recent upticks as potential beginnings of future massive outbreaks.

“There are very particular environments in which that can occur, island states and other places, but even they risk re-importation,” Ryan said.

Ryan continued: “A more worrying pattern is large clusters of cases that could occur in association with super spreading events, events in which large crowds gather.”

Each country should aim to quash “small embers,” or early signs of resurging outbreaks, before the virus comes back in a metaphorical forest fire, he added.

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