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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

WHO: Buy time before large-scale transmissions happen


CORONAVIRUS | World Health Organisation (WHO) Western Pacific regional director Dr Takeshi Kasai said the common tactics in handling Covid-19 - tracking, isolating and quarantining patients - will not completely eliminate the risks.
What is does is buy time for a country to prepare for large-scale community transmission.
"The common tactics are to identify cases early, isolate and treat and trace contact and quarantine them (the patients).
"The risk will not go away as long as the pandemic continues. Rather, these measures can buy us time to prepare for a large-scale community transmission," Kasai, who is based in Manila, Philippines, said in an online press conference today.
He warned the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and that taking on the virus was a long-term battle. 
Aside from preparing for the large-scale community transmission, he said countries must also find a way to "make our societies get running again" and this is something which requires all local authorities and communities to be fully engaged.
Though there have been some encouraging results in several countries' efforts against Covid-19 in the Western Pacific, Kasai said there is "no one size fits all" in preparing for an emergency like this.
"For countries that are seeing cases taper off, this is not the time to let down your guard.
"If you do, the virus will come surging back. You must keep up your efforts and help other countries in whatever way you can.
"Stay strong and stick to the tactics that work and know that flattening the curve does work," he said.
Won't be over by April
He pointed to some countries are better prepared because they have had experience with handling the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) outbreak such as Singapore.
Singapore, he said, has a multi-layer surveillance system to monitor such infections in the community as well as systems to identify those infected quickly.
Aside from Singapore, he said, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong are also showing very "robust" response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Kasai warned again that it is better for countries to over-spread their resources now and suppress the disease rather than move into the large-scale community outbreak phase.
Previously, the Malaysian Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said it is better to be over-prepared than underprepared in times of crisis such as in the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The WHO Western Pacific regional director also said it is unlikely for the Covid-19 outbreak to be over within the next month.
WHO wants every country to prepare for the pandemic within the context of each country but at the same time, he said countries also need to think of a strategy to bring back society to normal in a balanced way as much as possible.
"We want everyone's health to protect yourself but also to protect your family, colleagues, community and the vulnerable," he said. - Mkini

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