“Europe has learned to identify, isolate, quarantine,” he said.
“He also identified how to put in place the individual measures. We have therefore already observed in certain regions of Europe a very rapid reversal of certain rapidly growing curves.
“So I think that while we may not be complacent, there are already encouraging signs that even these early runs can be reversed much faster than in the spring, due to the know-how capacities that have been enhanced. “
Four key stages of opening
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said there were four key steps to take to reduce transmission and allow societies to reopen safely.
Prevent amplification events, which are linked to large gatherings of people, for example in stadiums, nightclubs and places of worship. He insisted that there are ways to organize gatherings safely in some places.
Reduce deaths by protecting vulnerable groups – such as the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and essential workers. This will reduce the stress on the health systems.
Individuals should do their part, following advice on social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask.
Fourth, governments must take tailor-made measures to find, isolate, test and cure cases and trace and quarantine contacts.
“If countries are serious about opening up, they must take suppressing transmission seriously and save lives,” he said.
“It may seem like an impossible balance – but it isn’t. It can be done, and it has been done. But this can only be done if countries control transmission. “
‘Cracks in our health systems’
Dr Ghebreyesus also highlighted the challenges that health systems around the world have faced since the start of the pandemic.
A WHO survey based on reports from 105 countries suggests that 90% of countries have experienced disruptions in their health services.
Low- and middle-income countries reported the greatest difficulties, he added, with ripple effects on routine and elective services as well as on critical care such as cancer screening and treatment and anti-HIV therapy.
Potentially life-saving emergency services have been cut off in nearly a quarter of the countries that responded.
“The survey sheds light on the flaws in our health systems, but it also serves to inform new strategies to improve health care delivery during the pandemic and beyond,” said Dr Ghebreyesus
“COVID-19 should be a lesson for all countries that health is not an ‘either or the other’ equation. We must better prepare for emergencies, but also continue to invest in health systems that fully meet the needs of people throughout life. “