All Covid-19 suspects cleared; WHO boss says lockdowns won’t be enough on their own

    UPDATED: As Tonga prepares to go into lockdown, all suspected coronavirus cases in Tonga have tested negative.

    However, the Director General of the World Health Organisation has warned that lockdowns will not be enough to stop the coronavirus pandemic on their own.

    There have been eight suspected infections so far.

    Ministry of Health CEO Dr Siale Akau’ola told Kaniva news that a suspected case in Ha’apai turned out to be a light illness, but the person had been isolated from six earlier suspects as a precaution.

    An eighth case was identified yesterday.

    He confirmed today March 2 that all test results had been received today and all had been cleared.

    “That’s good news,” he said.

    Dr Akau’ola said more aircraft would be flying into Tonga during the lockdown.

    He confirmed that an aircraft which landed earlier this week was picking up foreign nationals.

    He said aircraft carrying essential cargo were expected to arrive.

    Lockdown not enough on its own

    Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement would buy time and reduce the pressure on health systems, but would not extinguish the epidemic, the Director General of the World Health Organisation said this week.

    The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

    “We call on all countries who have introduced so-called “lockdown” measures to use this time to attack the virus.

    “You have created a second window of opportunity. The question is, how will you use it?”

    Dr Ghebreyesus said the WHO recommended six key actions. He said governments should:

    Expand, train and deploy their health care and public health workforce;

    Implement a system to find every suspected case at community level;

    Ramp up the production, capacity and availability of testing;

    Identify, adapt and equip facilities that will be used to treat and isolate patients;

    Develop a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts;

    Refocus the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.

    “These measures are the best way to suppress and stop transmission, so that when restrictions are lifted, the virus doesn’t resurge,” the Director General said.

    “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence.

    “Aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions – they’re also the best way to prevent them.”

    The main points

    • As Tonga prepares to go into lockdown, all suspected coronavirus cases in Tonga have tested negative.
    • However, the Director General of the World health Organisation has warned that lockdowns will not be enough to stop the coronavirus epidemic on their own.

    For more information

    WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 25 March 2020

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