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WHO warns on countries opening too quickly

Coronavirus latest news2

The head of the World Health Organisation is warning that opening up societies too quickly amid the coronavirus pandemic is a "recipe for disaster".

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus advises that "the more control countries have over the virus, the more they can open up," and insists that countries that are serious about opening up must also be serious about suppressing transmission.

"This may seem like an impossible balance but it's not," he told reporters in Geneva.

Tedros cited four key points that countries, communities and individuals should focus on: preventing "amplifying events" - as the virus thrives on clusters; protecting vulnerable groups; people taking steps individually to protect themselves; and finding, isolating, testing and caring for cases, while tracing and quarantining their contacts.

The WHO also noted on Monday that 90 per cent of countries that responded in a survey reported fallout from COVID-19 on the provision of other health care services.

Tedros said 105 countries responded to the survey aimed at assessing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on strained health systems.

The survey, covering five regions between March and June, exposed "cracks in our health systems" and the need for better preparation for health emergencies like the pandemic that has produced more than 25 million confirmed cases and killed more than 843,000 people by the WHO's count, Tedros said.

The survey results indicated that routine immunisation and outreach services were among the most affected, with 70 per cent of countries reporting disruptions followed closely by the diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Nearly a quarter of countries that responded reported disruptions to emergency services.

WHO cautioned about some limitations about the study, including that it involved "self-assessment," as well as differences in the phases of the outbreak that countries were experiencing.

© AP 2020