CAPE TOWN- Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the majority of the world’s population have experienced some degree of lockdown or severe restrictions to slow the spread of the outbreak.
While lockdowns have in some cases proven to be a good tactic in lowering transmission and preparing healthcare systems, some hold the view that lockdowns should not be used as the main strategy against Covid-19.
In an article published in The Conversation, Associate Professor at La Trobe University in Australia, Hassan Vally, said that the decision to impose a lockdown should be carefully considered and should only be implemented where the benefits outweigh the consequences.
Last week the World Health Organization’s special envoy on Covid-19, Dr. David Nabarro, urged world leaders to avoid using lockdowns as a primary control method for Covid-19. He holds that countries should develop better systems for containing virus outbreaks.
“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus. This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe, and so we really do appeal to all world leaders to stop using lockdown as your primary control method, develop better systems, work together, and learn from each other,” said Nabarro.
Vally says there are four key tactics or strategies that should be used to keep lockdowns short and sharp.
1. Testing, contact tracing and isolation
It is important to be able to identify cases and make sure they don’t spread the virus. When we identify cases, we also need to work out where and by whom they were infected, so we can quarantine anyone who may also have been exposed. The goal is to interrupt transmission of the virus by keeping the infected away from others. If a person tests positive, they should isolate immediately until they know they are in the clear.
2. Responding to clusters
Bringing clusters under control requires decisive action. This involved identifying and testing people up to three degrees of separation from a known case.
3. Educating the public
It is important for the public to receive and understand clear advice on how to protect themselves. Communities should understand the importance of social distancing and good hygiene. This includes non-English speakers and other minority groups. Delivering this message to all requires money and effort from health authorities and community leaders.
It has become universally accepted that public mask-wearing is a cheap and effective way to slow Covid-19 transmission, particularly in situations where social distancing is difficult.
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