WHO guidelines for reopening schools and businesses
Stressing on the fact that human civilisation is finally getting a "second chance" WHO officials urged communities to maintain discipline as they ease restrictions
The World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines to follow as a precautionary measure before reopening institutions and workplaces to ensure safety.
"We need to get our priorities right as we enter the next phase of this fight," Michael J. Ryan, Chief Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said at a briefing in Geneva on Monday.
Before taking the decision of reopening any school, WHO suggested the authority to take some concerns into account such as the severity of the outbreak in that particular area and whether it puts the children at risk of being transmitted.
"Adequate measures need to be taken by the institution to prevent and control the spread of the virus," WHO said.
Sitting arrangement in a classroom needs to be set up while maintaining social distancing and also authority needs to find ways to keep them physically apart during break time, said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead.
Other factors cannot be discounted in the decision to reopen schools, said the WHO, including children's access to meals, educational disparities, and the need to reduce burdens on parents who are essential healthcare workers.
For workplaces, the WHO says leaders should carry out risk assessments to understand workers' potential exposure to the virus and plan reopenings accordingly.
Additionally, they recommended workplaces to develop action plans that complement their existing business continuity plans. These action plans should include guidance for re-opening, closing and modifying work settings, while also outlining measures to help prevent or mitigate the spread of the virus.
Such plans should be created in consultation with workers and their representatives, and steps should be taken to ensure that all measures are widely and clearly communicated, the WHO said.
Stressing on the fact that human civilisation is finally getting a "second chance" WHO officials urged communities to maintain discipline as they ease restrictions.
"We have a second chance now as a society to put in place the necessary public health interventions, to put in place the necessary community supports. Shutting your eyes and trying to drive through this blind is about as silly an equation as I've seen," said Ryan.
Some countries, such as South Korea and China, recently saw new cases emerge in areas where the virus had been suppressed. These countries were in a position to react quickly to these new infections, as they had maintained comprehensive efforts to detect and trace new cases.
"We have a long way to go with this virus," added Ryan. "Having said that, we have the tools in our toolbox to be able to prevent this virus (from) taking off again."