With a swift decline in the total number of COVID-19 daily cases across Europe, a lot of cities and countries are beginning to open this month. In fact, under its de-escalation plan, Spain is all set to re-open even its beaches and restaurants. Now that's a happy thought amid all the pandemic bleakness, right? With all the lockdown relaxations in place, things seem to be really easing across the world, barring only a country or two.
Just two days ago, the Florida state police had to disperse an unauthorised gathering of people in Daytona Beach. Clearly, the fear of the coronavirus is beginning to wane with all these relaxations. However, is it time already to throw caution to the winds and get back to our old ways of life? Not so much if you were to believe the latest set of warnings, as released by the WHO.
Fearing the unmonitored relaxations across the world, WHO emergencies head, Dr. Mike Ryan, on Monday expressed the possibility of a second wave of infections, especially in cases when all the measures to halt the first coronavirus waves are eased too quickly or recklessly. Also, as per Dr Ryan, we wouldn't even have to wait for a few months for the second peak, as earlier predicted by the WHO, in case we get too cavalier with the mitigation measures.
Hinting towards an "immediate second peak," Ryan shared in a video conference, "When we speak about a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months' time."
He further added, "But we need also to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave."
Alarmed by all the recent relaxations and risky moves that authorities across the world are willing to make to go back to normalcy right now, Dr Ryan advised caution. He insisted that Europe and North America should "continue to put in place the public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and we don't have an immediate second peak."
Incidentally, Italy has already granted permission for the beaches to be opened May 18 onwards. As already mentioned, Spain too is all set to open its beaches for sunbathing while Madrid and Barcelona are all set to open the doors of its restaurants and eateries.
Earlier this month, POTUS Donald Trump had also talked about the need for gradually opening the country and various operations. India too introduced a number of relaxations under Lockdown 4.0. This is a bold move given that India's COVID-19 count and the total number of new cases is only increasing every day.
This is not the first time that the WHO has released a warning regarding the lockdown relaxations. Earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had also expressed the risk of the virus taking off in case the countries fail to make an easy transition from lockdown to normalcy.
Well, a fair warning has been given here. It is up to us, as to how we plan to move from here because as already established by the WHO, all the relaxations might just end up proving counter-productive.