New guidelines from PAHO
Washington – The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Wednesday outlined best practices to help countries decide which measures to implement to control the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and for how long.
“We are hopeful that with this guidance, countries will be better able to tailor their responses to their individual needs, as their caseload changes overtime,” PAHO’s Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa told a media briefing.
The updated guidance, developed by WHO and PAHO, covers “considerations for implementing and adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19”.
“As we await an effective vaccine and better treatments against COVID-19, countries should expect to see a series of recurring outbreaks, so they would always need to be ready to act. The key has always been to ensure that our public health responses are adaptive to the moment. Only then can we ensure that a few new cases don’t develop into full blown outbreaks,” Barbosa said.
The best practices include robust disease surveillance to detect spread of the virus and fine tune a response, contact tracing to limit the spread of the virus, prioritising primary health systems to provide care for people where needed, and having surge medical teams on call for emergencies.
“Keeping the virus under control requires both constant commitment and proactive adjustments to ensure our national responses reflect changing trends,” he said.
Barbosa, noting that 22 million people in the Americas have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 660 000 have died, said the virus is still surging, with 150 000 cases reported daily.
PAHO said in North America, states in the US, Canada and Mexico are experiencing spikes in cases, but some countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America are doing better than others.
Barbosa warned that the situation in Europe “should serve as a cautionary tale to the Americas. It proves that even after controlling COVID-19 infections, countries are still vulnerable to a resurgence of the virus”.
“Effective epidemic surveillance systems allowed Chile to bounce back after unprecedented spikes earlier this year by tailoring its public health measures, locality by locality,” he noted.
Caribbean countries, using strong laboratory surveillance systems, “have been disciplined about imposing restrictions and tightening public health measures when there have been new infections, while also keeping tourism afloat”, said Barbosa. (CMC)