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15 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Government should not set dates for lifting lockdown measures, WHO says

By Samuel Horti

The UK government should not give specific dates for lifting lockdown restrictions until a system for tracking and isolating new infections is in place, the World Health Organisation’s coronavirus special envoy has said.

“Other countries are saying very clearly: we want to make sure that the capacity to test, trace and isolate is present throughout our country before we really start lifting the restrictions on movement,” David Nabarro told the BBC.

“And I suppose my request to all countries is that rather than giving precise dates, they say: we’ll release the lockdowns when we know that we’ve got the defence mechanisms in place, when we know that our people understand the severity of this virus, and what we’ve got to do and when we’ve made sure that, in the settings where the virus is most easily transmitted, we’ve put in place the best possible protection to keep those at risk most safe.”

The government set out rough dates for different phases of lifting lockdown on Monday.

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Nabarro also advised anyone with cardiovascular disease or diabetes to be especially careful. “And it is not so much that I want them to be shielded, it is just that I want them to be given the necessary advice and encouragement to be able to keep their distance from other people,” he said.

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(Image credit: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)