The emergency director of the World Health Organization warned this Monday that the pandemic cannot be controlled if the necessary health measures are not applied within the communities such as social distancing, avoiding crowds, and wearing masks, something that is “impossible” if there are still people you think the problem does not exist.
“Our problem and our great challenge is that not everyone does that, not everyone has the knowledge to do it, not everyone accepts that this is what should be done, because they do not believe in this disease, they do not believe that we have a pandemic on our hands. How can we convince someone to do something if they don’t think there is a problem? It is impossible to think about this, ”stated Michael Ryan during the Organization’s biweekly conference.
Ryan said that it is necessary to convince and persuade people from governments, through information and support.
“And I’m not talking about forcing anyone I’m talking about discussing, talking, sharing resources between people. Governments must persuade people to do the right thing, but they need to support them to do so, for example, if they have to be quarantined, they must have access to food, internet connectivity, they need contact with their families, “he said. .
IMF Photo / Jeff Moore
The duty to protect the most vulnerable: difficult, but not impossible
Last week there was the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far and many countries in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing a worrying increase in cases and hospitalizations, the WHO director reported.
“Intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America. We understand the pandemic fatigue that people feel. It comes at a mental and physical cost for everyone. Working from home, educating kids remotely, not being able to celebrate with friends and family, or not being there to mourn loved ones is hard, and fatigue is real. But we cannot give up. We must not give up”Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus warned.
Michael Ryan explained that although cases in the old continent and the United States are increasing, it is not the time to move to a mitigation-only strategy and the most vulnerable must be protected by controlling transmission at the community level.
“The vast majority of vulnerable people do not live in nursing homes, they live among us, in multi-generational homes. Older people, those who are on chemotherapy, those who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, ”Ryan said.
The expert reiterated that if each person individually do what you can to reduce your exposure to the virus and lessen the opportunity to expose others, then there would be “significant success.”
“This has been demonstrated in several countries that have been able to contain this virus, and this would not require long or massive containment measures, perhaps only specific measures at the local level,” he said.
IMF / Cory Hancock
A “tsunami of cases”
Ryan explained that the massive lockdown measures are the replacement for a comprehensive public health approach to contain and suppress the virus and mitigate its impact.
“Mitigation is something important, but you cannot stop controlling transmission under the principle that we have all the capacity to mitigate. There were many problems in the United States and other countries in March and April using only mitigationWhen emergency rooms were overcrowded and there were massive freezer trucks for bodies parked behind hospitals. That is the reality of “mitigating” a disease in the face of a tsunami of cases, you are left without the ability to respond, and that is the fear right now, I hope this does not happen again, “he stressed.
The emergency director reminded governments, wherever they are, of their responsibility to move quickly and “suppress the flames of the pandemic.”
“To protect the most vulnerable we require that society come together, and break the chains of transmission and the only way to do this is through a social contract with the communities to support this work and put the necessary measures to make this happen. ”, He explained.
For her part, Dr. María Van Kerkhove, WHO lead epidemiologist, stressed that there is no dichotomy between mitigate and contain.
“Not that you can do just one. The comprehensive approach that we have designed and that many countries are using has elements of both, it is not one or the other. There is no dichotomy. Detecting cases, investigating groups of cases, a quarantine supported by the government for all contacts is as important as protecting the vulnerable, ”he insisted.
The technical leader of the response to COVID-19 stressed that there is no time to lose, that while the scientific community makes an “incredible” effort to develop effective vaccines and therapies, people must take steps to protect themselves and their communities.
“And this is going to include making some sacrifices, but we have to do them, we are going to do it and we are going to solve this“, he claimed.
OCHA / Gema Cortes
A negative COVID-19 test is not a license to ignore health measures
During the conference, Michael Ryan also emphasized that testing negative for COVID-19 is not a license or a passport to “do what you want” and ignore health measures.
“Doing so is very silly and dangerous. The test, whether PCR or antigen, tells you if you have an active infection right now, in your present state, at a certain time, but it does not tell you anything about what will happen tonight, or tomorrow or the next day ” , he detailed.
Ryan added that basing behaviors a negative result and avoiding recommended care is a risk for the entire population.
“Surely you do not want to bring the disease to your home, to your family, if you perhaps came out negative two days ago and now it is positive and you do not know it, you can bring the disease to your family, friends, or attend social gathering or religious event and infect others. Nobody wants to do this, ”he stressed.
The expert reiterated that the tests have a very specific purpose: to detect people who are sick or have the virus so that they receive care and identify their contacts.
“They are vital actions of a comprehensive health approach and testing is a part, but these cannot be licenses to do what one wants,” he said.