High Risk of another Coronavirus Outbreak As Economies Reopen, WHO Warns
Coronavirus is still present in our communities, and there is a very high risk of a second wave of outbreaks as more economies reopen. This was according to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist from the World Health Organization.
Swaminathan stated that it remains unclear whether another outbreak would be a “second wave, a second peak, or a continuing first in some countries.”. This is because some countries are reopening while still recording a substantial rate of infections. Therefore, “all of these possibilities are very real.”
Strict lockdown measures and social distancing have been effective so far. However, reopening will introduce another challenge since people won’t stay as far apart from one another. Once people start mixing again, as more economies reopen, it raises the chances of coronavirus transmission.
“Unless it’s gone down to such a low level in a place where it’s very rare to have the infection in the community,” added Swaminathan.
Governments Need To Be Cautious and Observe Coronavirus Behavior during Reopening
Swaminathan stated that it is paramount for governments to have a cautious and controlled reopening. They should also closely observe the pattern of infections as more people start to interact. She further cautioned that the world cannot be “complacent” as covid-19 is a “nasty virus”. It needs “people to be in close contact” for it to spread further.
‘So, especially in many countries around the world, where it is impossible to have physical distancing, it is really important that people remain vigilant.”
The most vulnerable in the society generally are “the elderly, people with weak immune systems and those with underlying illnesses”. These are the individuals who are at higher risk of getting sicker if Coronavirus infects them.
Therefore, those that are “more susceptible” need to be extra vigilant. They need to take necessary precautions to make sure their underlying conditions remain “under control.”. Such precautions include avoiding crowded areas, wearing medical masks at all times whenever they are outside.
Asymptomatic Cases May or May Not Be Infectious
So far, Coronavirus has infected over 7 million people, killing approximately 400,000 of these around the world. This is according to World Health Organization data. While the WHO advocates for vigorous testing, to control and prevent the spread of the virus, asymptomatic cases have presented a challenge.
Swaminathan stated that it is highly unlikely that asymptomatic cases are the ones spreading the disease. However, the possibility cannot be “completely ruled out.”. These are people who have tested positive for Coronavirus despite not showing any symptoms of the virus.
“Even though we do know that there are a number of people with infections in the community-Who are either completely asymptomatic or who have very mild symptoms-they do not seem to be the ones who are spreading the infection.” She said.
“Cases of presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmissions have been reported in China and possibly occurred in a nursing facility in King County, Washington.” This was according to a report published by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention in April.
The WHO stated recently that the spread of infections from asymptomatic people is “very rare.”
“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.” Said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Head of Emerging Diseases and Zoonists Unit at the WHO.
Later the WHO sought to clarify the statement by saying that much about asymptomatic transmission is unknown. The agency doesn’t have a definitive answer yet. Dr. Maria Kerkhove again stated:
“I was responding to a question at the press conference. I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that, just trying to articulate what we know.”
The Global Economy Could Face a Double Recession
Meanwhile, economies are registering positive economic news with the ongoing worldwide reopening. The US recorded 2.5 million in employment gain in May. Meanwhile, China surpassed its forecasted export trade surplus for April and May.
However, the global economy is still in recession, with a high possibility of a double recession, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU). Europe was the region with the worst-hit economies, as stated by EIU’s global forecasting director Agatha Demarais. She further said that some countries like Spain and Italy already had “weak fiscal points” prior to the outbreak.
“A potential debt crisis in any of these countries would quickly spread to other developed countries and emerging markets, sending the global economy into an another-possible much worse downturn.” She said.
While the development of a vaccine and global immunization is still far away, according to Swaminathan, Herd immunity, which would allow things to get back to normal, is unattainable right now.
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