World Health Organisation spokesperson Margaret Harris has said that Covid-19 needs to be slowed down as much as possible in order to give people a chance to get through the disease and to ease pressure on health services.
Dr Harris told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show that transmission will not immediately stop, and while the concept of a second wave comes from the experience with flu, it must be remembered that this is a completely new virus and cannot be expected to behave exactly as the flu.
Dr Harris pointed out that the world is very connected so when people begin to relax and move again, there is a danger the virus could spread again if vigilance drops. This was what was being referred to as ‘a second wave.’
She also urged the over 70s to stay indoors for the next two weeks.
The WHO has been working with countries to enable them to ramp up testing capacity, she said, but there is one specific chemical reagent needed for testing that is in short supply worldwide.
However, she said there were other ways, that the virus could be looked at clinically. Work could continue in the community – to see what are the symptoms. This would require surveillance teams who would work with people suspected of having the virus.
In the meantime everyone should do what they could to protect themselves – hand washing, not sharing utensils or towels. “That’s why governments have resorted to lockdowns.
“The real message here is to keep at it, to keep a handle on it.”
World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson Margaret Harris has said that the information it receives from Ireland in relation to the coronavirus is “excellent”.
“Your government is being very open about it all, where it is, who has it, where it's happening, this is a very, very positive sign,” Ms Harris told Newstalk Breakfast.
“You have transparency, you have your community working together, these are things that mean you will get through it more quickly. Definitely.”
Ms Harris said that Italy seems to be slowly recovering, “however, they've got new areas like any country it starts in one place, you get a big rise, it stops there, but then you get a rise elsewhere, unfortunately it is still very serious and an accelerating outbreak globally.”
She explained that the WHO does not prescribe lockdowns, “we do prescribe social distancing which is easier for governments to maintain social distancing when they do a lockdown because the message really gets home to people, you're not moving around, you must not be in groups.
“Different countries have done things differently and in Asia not every country has gone into lockdown and they have slowed down their outbreaks.
“You're going to have this outbreak in your population, what you want to see is a slow rise in cases, not this accelerated rise we're seeing at the moment, because then you have an accelerated rise in the 10% of people who will need critical care and that's when you overwhelm your health care system.”