The World Health Organization on Monday warned against any relaxation of response actions following the recent slight decline in COVID-19 cases in the South-East Asia Region and said the pandemic continues unabated and our response only needs to be strengthened further to curtail virus transmission.
Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia Region said, “There should be no complacency in view of the declining numbers in recent weeks. The Region still reports large numbers of COVID-19 cases. We need to continue to do our very best to curtail the pandemic.”
The upcoming festival season and the approaching winter/cold season threatens to aggravate the situation if we let our guards down, she added.
Concerted efforts have been made by the member countries for scaling up capacities for timely detection, tracing contacts, testing, isolating the affected, and providing hospital care to those who need it. “Our relentless efforts need to continue with more vigor,” said the Regional Director.
During this festive season, we should not stop to take responsibility as individuals for the need to maintain physical distance, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wear a mask when and where needed. The three Cs are very important for all of us to remember to – avoid crowded places, avoid closed settings, and avoid confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
There is a co-circulation of seasonal influenza and COVID-19 in the winters that may present challenges for health systems and health facilities as both diseases are present many similar symptoms.
So maintaining the same measures that are effective in preventing COVID-19 is important that are also effective for preventing influenza including physical distancing, hand hygiene, covering coughs, ventilation, and masks.
WHO is working with countries to take a holistic approach for the preparedness, prevention, control, and treatment of all respiratory diseases, including influenza and COVID-19.
The WHO South-East Asia Region has registered a 6 – 8 percent decline in the number of COVID-19 cases for the third week in a row, mainly due to a decrease in reported cases from India and Bangladesh.
The Region which is home to one-fourth of the worlds’ population has reported over 8 million of the nearly 40 million cases globally are facing unique demographic and geographic challenges.
WHO supports the countries in their containment and mitigation efforts of providing technical guidance, laboratory capacity strengthening for testing, equipment for hospitals, protection of healthcare workers, and creating awareness and addressing misinformation.