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Strictly implement public health, social measures: WHO

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Risk assessment should measure both the actual ability to provide services and the performance of those services

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised countries in the Southeast Asia region to step up and rigorously implement public health and social measures, along with efforts to speed up vaccination against COVID-19, to prevent further growth. as more countries confirmed the prevalence of highly transmissible disturbing variants.

We must continually step up our efforts to test, track, and isolate. Social interventions such as physical distancing, hand hygiene and proper wearing of masks must be strictly implemented. These measures should be in full force and for longer periods in areas reporting more transmissible variants of concerns, said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South East Asia.

The release added that public and societal health measures were part of a wide range of non-pharmaceutical, individual and social interventions, and were cost-effective measures to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and save lives.

In addition to personal protective measures, cleaning, disinfection, ventilation, supervision, contact tracking, isolation and quarantine are recommended. Physical distancing measures include limiting the size of gatherings, keeping distance in public or workplaces, restrictions on domestic movement, and international travel-related measures.

These measures are critical to preventing infections, reducing transmission and saving lives, said Dr. Khetrapal Singh.

Even as countries increase vaccination against COVID-19, they need to implement public and social health measures in an adapted and agile manner, she said.

A risk-based approach to public health and social measures is needed. These measures should be implemented by the lowest administrative level and constantly regulated by the intensity of transmission and the capacity of health systems.

The capacity of health systems includes both clinical care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19, as well as public health services such as case detection, diagnostic testing and contact tracking. Risk assessment should measure both the current ability to provide services and the performance of those services, said Dr. Khetrapal Singh.

Where the Most Transmissible Variants of Anxiety are spreading, these measures need to be implemented more rigorously and for longer periods, she added.

Earlier this week, the Maldives and Burma confirmed the broadcast of the Anxiety Variants. Previously, the presence of Disturbance Variants was confirmed in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Variants of concern, along with the opening up of economies and societies, contributed to the recent increase in cases globally.

Countries around the world are currently at different stages in the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and face different epidemiological situations. Although the South East Asia region is now witnessing an overall decline in cases, mainly due to the decrease in the number of reported cases in India, in some other countries, the cases are still increasing.

We must not forget that the pandemic is still around. We need to guard against complacency at every level. We must continue to implement combinations of public health and social measures until, globally, there is high COVID-19 vaccine coverage among health workers and high-risk and vulnerable groups, said the Regional Director.

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