On Sunday, The World Health Organization (WHO) called upon and warned countries in its south-east Asia region to improve upon the public health infrastructure, stringently implement social measures and should make efforts to accelerate vaccination to prevent another COVID-19 surge.
Maldives and Myanmar confirmed the transmission of coronavirus variants of concern this past week. Furthermore, variants of concern have been confirmed in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and Timor-Leste, the global health body said in the address.
The variants of the deadly coronavirus are now being raised as a concern with the opening of economies and to the recent surge in cases globally.
Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia said that
They need to continuously strengthen the efforts to test, track and isolate. Proper sanitization, physical distancing, hand hygiene and proper wearing of masks need to be implemented strictly. She also added that, all these measures should be in full force and for longer periods in areas reporting more transmissible variants of concerns.
Even though countries have increased the vaccination rate against COVID-19, they need to implement social measures and public health in an organised and dexterous manner, she further added.
In a statement given by Singh she emphasized that a risk-based approach is needed for public health and social measures and these measures should be carried by the lowest administrative level and modified to the intensity of transmission and the capacity of health systems.
Currently a number of countries are at different phases in the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and are incurring varying epidemiological situations. Even though the region is now seeing an overall decline in cases mainly due to a decrease in cases in India, some other nations are still seeing a spike in cases.
She reminds in the statement that the pandemic is not over yet and that the countries must guard against complacency at any level. They must continue the implementation of combinations of public health and social measures until there is high vaccine coverage among health workers, and vulnerable and high-risk groups.