As the number of global coronavirus cases approaches two million globally—along with a minimum of 125,000 deaths—some countries who are nearing the pandemic’s peak are considering the loosening of quarantine restrictions. For these places, including the United States, Austria, Norway, and the Czech Republic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published recommendations for how these countries can transition to what some are calling “the new normal.”
These quarantine restrictions, which range from school closings and limiting large gatherings to the mass closure of non-essential businesses and the banning of even intimate groups, have been imposed through most of the western world since early and mid-March. Governments are eager to lift the quarantine as soon as feasible in an attempt to salvage any kind of economic growth.
“These decisions must be based first and foremost on protecting human health, and guided by what we know about the virus and how it behaves,” said Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the WHO. “We’re all learning all the time and adjusting our strategy, based on the latest available evidence. We can only say what we know, and we can only act on what we know.”
Tedros warned that while the spread of the virus was exponential, its recession will be much slower, and must be monitored so it does not have a resurgence. “Our global connectedness means the risk of re-introduction and resurgence of the disease will continue,” he warned. “Ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission.”
In pursuit of healthful policy recommendations, the WHO has laid out a six-point outline that it’s asking countries to meet before lifting any of the quarantine restrictions. 1), transmission of the coronavirus must be controlled. 2), there is a health system in place that has the capacity to test, detect, isolate, and treat every new case of the coronavirus. 3), the risks of outbreak are minimized in settings such as healthcare facilities and nursing homes. 4), proper preventative measures are in place for workplaces and schools. 5), any risks of importing the disease can be managed. And 6), that local communities are educated about the “new norm” they’ll be living under.
Up to this point, the WHO has come under severe international criticism for its performance during the coronavirus pandemic. When the disease was beginning to spread in China during the month of December, the WHO took for granted assurances from the communist dictatorship that they had the situation under control. The WHO also continued to publish death rates given to them from the Chinese, which are almost certainly fraudulent.
This behavior has led to a backlash in the United States, with there being calls for the U.S. government to withdraw its funding from the WHO, which Trump put a pause on today in a late press conference.
Hunter DeRensis is the senior reporter for the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.