WHO warns countries could see ‘immediate second peak’ if restrictions lifted too early

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UNITED NATIONS:The World Health Organization (WHO), a UN agency, has warned that countries lifting public health restrictions too early could see an “immediate second peak” in coronavirus cases, even if new diagnoses are currently declining in their region.

In a virtual press briefing in Geneva Monday, WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan said that although cases are on their way down in many countries, the world is still “right in the middle of the first wave, globally.”

“The disease can jump up at any time,” Ryan said. “We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”

In order to avoid having cases skyrocket for a second time within the first wave, Ryan said that countries in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia should “continue to put in place the public health and social measures,  the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy, to ensure that we continue on a downward trajectory.”

Ryan added that the situation is very different depending on where in the world one is, pointing out that countries such as Spain have managed to “contain and suppress the disease transmission,” while in other regions such as South America, Africa, South Asia, and “many other countries, we’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up.”

Many countries have already started to ease their lockdown measures and reopen some workplaces and public areas in a bid to lessen the economic impact of the pandemic. Japan lifted the state of emergency over Tokyo and four other remaining regions on Monday, ending their nation-wide restrictions.

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