At a coronavirus testing centre in the UAE.


When can we lift coronavirus restrictions? 4 things needed, expert says


DUBAI – With most countries still in full or partial lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are wondering when restrictions will be lifted.

A four-phase “road map to reopening” must be met first, according to a recently released report by the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank.

The report was co-written by former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

1. Slow the spread of infections

According to the report, the first phase involves slowing the spread of new infections with physical distancing measures, such as closing schools and having people work from home.

2. Capacity to test and treat Covid-19 patients

Restrictions can be lifted when countries have the capacity to trace, test and isolate people with Covid-19 and their close contacts. Social distancing will still be required.

3. Effective treatment

In the third phase, remaining restrictions can be lifted when an effective therapy or vaccine becomes available or when data shows widespread immunity.

4. Preparedness for next pandemic

When the pandemic is over, countries can lift restrictions when they are able to invest heavily on research and healthcare to prepare for the next pandemic.

Pandemic preparedness expert Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security, told the Scientific American that some of the most important criteria must be met before countries can reopen.

What are some of the key things that have to happen before we can safely lift restrictions on society?

Inglesby gives four requirements:

1. Consistent declines in new cases

2. Widespread testing and case tracking

3. Adequate supplies of protective gear for healthcare workers

4. Rapid case finding and treatment

Inglesby said countries can consider relaxing social distancing measures when they have a “demonstrated downward trend in cases over the two weeks prior”.

The second requirement is to have extensive diagnostic testing capability. “Right now we’re focused on the sickest patients… but we need to get to a point where anybody who’s got symptoms consistent with Covid-19 can get a test and have results in the same day,” he told the Scientific American.

The third requirement is to have enough supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in sufficient quantities in the event that the number of patients increases following a relaxation of social distancing measures.

The last and most important element is to have the capacity to do “very rapid case finding”, which means having the capacity to trace, test, isolate and treat people with Covid-19 and their close contacts.

“Those are the kinds of conditions, I think, that would make it safer for states to begin to relax social distancing,” Inglesby said. ICA/Expat Media

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