Advertisement

WHO says national lockdowns should not be used to combat COVID-19

Governments should not impose national lockdowns if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to ris...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

08.46 11 Sep 2020


Share this article


WHO says national lockdowns sh...

WHO says national lockdowns should not be used to combat COVID-19

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

08.46 11 Sep 2020


Share this article


Governments should not impose national lockdowns if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

That's according to Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organization's special envoy on COVID-19 and professor of Global Health at Imperial College London.

The Government are set to unveil the new medium-term plan for 'Living with COVID' on Tuesday.

Advertisement

It comes as NPHET advise a reduction in the number of social visitors to people's homes in Dublin.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Nabarro said there are "many things happening [in Ireland] to be proud of".

However, he said: "[The WHO] really do not want lockdown to be used as a means of dealing with COVID unless things are really bad.

"Sometimes lockdown can be useful to give you time when you're working out what to do.

"What we're encouraging all countries to do is to build up their capacity to defend against this virus which means picking up cases quickly and responding locally with very targeted measures."

As part of Tuesday's roadmap, a new COVID-19 alert system will introduce local lockdowns based on the level of infections in a county or region.

Dr David Nabarro. Photo: Xinhua/Xu Jinquan/Sipa USA

Dr Nabarro said: "I love this system that you're developing in Ireland because you're really breaking it down to the county level and that's what we're encouraging everywhere.

"You are developing a graded system so if things are bad you can move to level five and then you can come out of it as quickly as possible.

"I think having that capacity to shift and adapt is what's absolutely necessary at this time.

"We have to defend against this virus because we have no alternative but we also have to keep life going."

He said finding the right balance is what every country is doing.

He added: "Lockdown is a temporary measure in extremis which buys you a bit of time to rearrange your resources, helps you work things out.

"I think we should be moving beyond having nationwide lockdowns now.

"If we are going to use movement restrictions, I like them to be local, short-lived and designed to help the authorities break down a cluster of cases and suppress an outbreak.

"I think we need to move beyond using lockdown as a primary containment measure."

Testing capacity

On Ireland's testing and tracing capacity, Dr Nabarro said there is a "worldwide challenge" of trying to make sure there is enough testing where it's needed.

He said: "Every country is trying to hone up their testing and tracing systems because they know when you have small numbers of cases you really need to know where the virus is.

"The tests are not easy to do, you need specialised reagents to do them plus sophisticated laboratories.

"Right now, I think most countries are finding that keeping the testing capacity up is a challenge."

Dr Nabarro said the reagents used for testing are always going to be in tight supply, especially as the pandemic spreads to more places.

International travel

Meanwhile, Ireland is expected to be one of the countries to sign up to the EU’s COVID aviation plan.

Dr Nabarro added: "If you're thinking about whether to fly from A to B what you want to know is whether the way in which COVID is being dealt with in A and B is the same.

"In the end, it's how we deal with the disease that matters.

"What I hope will happen with the EU arrangement being set up is that there will be a system developed to be able to get indicators of what's happening of different places and then it will be less of a lottery.

He said this would involve working out what the basic indicators are to establish travel.

Dr Nabarro said: "I think none of us wants to put any restrictions on anything if we can avoid it.

"We tried very hard in the WHO not to set limits on these kinds of things, because this is up to national governments and to people.

"I'm not going to suggest that we all shouldn't be travelling, I think we have to work out the risk and also assess whether we would be badly affected if quarantine is suddenly imposed."

Main image: A Stay Home message on the famous Naas Ball on the N7/M7 motorway in Co Kildare. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Share this article


Read more about

Coronavirus Covid-19 Dr David Nabarro Lockdown WHO World Health Organisation

Most Popular