GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s Tedros Adhanom said on Monday that governments considering reopening their economies should have a plan to deal with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Adhanom, the director-general of the WHO, said that those countries gearing up to ease economic restrictions should consider whether the epidemic is under control and if they have the appropriate tools to detect, manage and cope with the new cases prior to lifting of lockdowns.
He warned that even with proper management and identification systems in place, “releasing lockdowns is both complex and difficult.”
“Over the weekend we saw signs of the challenges that may lie ahead,” Adhanom said. “In the Republic of Korea, bars and clubs were shut as a confirmed case led to many contacts being traced. In Wuhan, China, the first cluster of cases since their lockdown was lifted was identified. Germany has also reported an increase in cases since an easing of restrictions.”
Adhanom said that, fortunately, these countries have the means to detect and respond to a resurgence in cases. He added that early serological studies show that a relatively low percentage of the population has antibodies for COVID-19, meaning that most of the world’s population is still susceptible to the virus. The WHO has provided new guidance as part of a comprehensive package of measures for governments looking to lift lockdowns. The new guidance focuses on whether and how to reopen schools and workplaces.
“First, a clear understanding about current COVID-19 transmission and severity of the virus in children is needed,” Adhanom said. “Second, the epidemiology of COVID-19 where the school is geographically located needs to be considered. Third, the ability to maintain COVID-19 prevention and control measures within the school setting.”
Adhanom urged government leaders and decision makers to assess the capacity of schools to maintain infection, prevention and control measures, and said all places of work must carry out a risk assessment for workers potential exposure to the virus.
“The plan should also include measures for protecting health, safety and security in re-opening, closing, and modifying workplaces,” he added.
Michigan has steadily ramped up its COVID-19 testing capacity. Testing remains an essential tool in detecting outbreaks and coming up with comprehensive plans to deal with these outbreaks based on the data. The COVID Tracking Project has calculated that a total of 298,948 have been conducted in Michigan (251,396 negative, 47,552 positive).
Michigan reports specimen tests instead of people tested. Last week, Governor Whitmer outlined her plan for gradual reopening and emphasized that Michigan’s reopening plans take seriously the latest science and hard data when creating timelines, geography and other components. Manufacturing workers went back on the job on Monday, although the “Stay Home” order has been extended to May 28 for the rest of the state.