Lockdown measures that have forced citizens across the globe to suspend businesses and socially/physically distance from other people has been one of the most important actions taken in attempts to slow the spread of Covid-19.
After several weeks already living under lockdown measures, many countries continue to #StayAtHome with seemingly no end in sight for the end of these strict but necessary guidelines. It's not surprising some of us are finding lockdown hard to cope with, and reports have stated that incidences of anxiety, stress, and depression are likely to peak amidst the crisis. But there may now be a light at the end of the (albeit it rather long) tunnel.
As China and parts of Europe start easing lockdown rules, the World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to include advice on the six criteria countries must meet before lifting lockdown restrictions.
The six criteria suggested in the recent update are:
Covid-19 transmission is controlled
Countries need to transition to a state where no or low-level, controlled disease spread is occurring with known origin and to a degree that can be supported by the health care system.
Health systems can detect, test, isolate and quarantine Covid-19 cases
This is reliant on antigen and likely antibody tests being readily available for everyone, not just the most severe cases presenting to hospitals.
High risks are minimized in vulnerable places
Necessary steps must be taken to protect places such as nursing homes, which have seen tragic numbers of deaths throughout the crisis so far.
Workplace preventive measures are established to reduce risk
All workplaces and schools will need to stick to rules regarding physical distancing, hand washing, and even temperature monitoring to avoid secondary outbreaks.
Future imported cases can be managed
This requires keeping on top of hot spot areas and having the capacity to rapidly detect new cases
Communities are fully informed and inspired to follow new instructions
Lifting lockdown is going to be a process and one that requires cooperation from the nation. Governments must keep citizens fully informed to ensure the efficacy of the next steps while we adjust to the "new norm".
Attempting to find a balance between preventing further loss of life and spread of the disease against catastrophic economic loss, which is likely to plunge half a billion people into poverty, is a complex and emotionally charged task, making the question of when exactly to ease shutdowns a hard one to answer.
"One of the main things we've learned in the past months about Covid-19 is that the faster all cases are found, tested, isolated and cared for, the harder we make it for the virus to spread," said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a Tweet when the guidelines were released. "This principle will save lives & mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic."
Find out about the extreme measures taken by one police force in the UK to enforce lockdown measures.