(AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

WHO official discourages lockdowns as primary Covid-19 control method

CAPE TOWN- The World Health Organization’s special envoy on Covid-19, Dr. David Nabarro, has urged world leaders to avoid using lockdowns as a primary control method for Covid-19 and that countries should develop better systems for containing virus outbreaks.

In an online interview with The Spectator last week, Nabarro said that lockdowns can only be justified when a country needs to reorganise, rebalance their resources, and protect their health workers who are exhausted.

“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 eachother,” said Nabarro.

One of the biggest consequences from national lockdowns in any country, he says, is that the poor are amongst those who are most affected.

“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world, because their markets have been dented. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition because children are not getting meals at schools.”

In a Skills, System& Synergies for Sustainable Development (4SD) press release, Nabarro said that instead of implementing more restrictions in countries, a “middle path” is needed.

In order for countries to find this middle path, three interlinked principals need to be upheld.

  1. ) People are to be encouraged to adopt all precautions all the time, which includes physical distancing, proper face-masking, hand/cough/surface hygiene, self-isolating when ill and shielding those most at risk. There should be no exceptions anywhere, says Nabarro.
  2. Public health services should be organised to offer support for interrupting transmission and suppressing clusters. Test-trace-isolate-protect services should be widely available. It is important there is enough testing capacity to pick up where the virus is, to detect spikes and manage surges.
  3. Messaging should be consistent and clear within and between nations. If leaders are not consistent in their requests and advocacy, their people will be confused, perhaps frustrated.

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