The Health October 2020 - Page 27

Many governments had failed to meet the criteria necessary to avoid new waves of infection

| Covid-19 | october , 2020 | The Health

27

Countries should not ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions until they meet five criteria -- and many nations are not even close , according to a new analysis published in The Lancet medical journal .

According to CNN , the research , published recently said that the prerequisites for easing Covid-19 measures are : knowledge of infection status , community engagement , adequate public health capacity , adequate health system capacity and border controls .
The authors looked at nine high-income countries and territories that have started to relax restrictions -- Hong Kong , Japan , New Zealand , Singapore , South Korea , Germany , Norway , Spain and the UK .
They found that many governments had failed to meet the criteria necessary to avoid new waves of infection , as seen in Spain , Germany and the UK .” The evidence is clear . If we are getting a resurgence of disease , of numbers of cases , then they opened up too early , it ’ s sort of axiomatic ,” co-author Martin McKee , professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine , told CNN .
The study also found that an effective find , test , trace , isolate , support system is needed to safely reopen .“ No country does it perfectly , actually ... England does it particularly badly . Spain and France don ’ t do terribly well either ,” said McKee .
The authors of the paper said that countries should base decisions about easing lockdowns on a combination of epidemiology and the social and economic consequences of restrictions .
No matter the strategy chosen , it said that governments should be explicit about their goals and transparent in their decision making , and the steps taken should be part of a clear overall strategy ,“ however , this is not always the case .”
The study also said “ the argument is strong ” for countries to adopt a zero-Covid strategy , like New Zealand , which means eliminating domestic transmission . One reason was because of the growing burden of those who survived the virus but have symptoms for longer than expected , it said .
Infection status and knowledge
The study found that countries including Singapore , Norway , Spain , and ( for local outbreaks ) the UK , draw on expert advice to decide how to relax restrictions . Yet without explicit and public criteria , the basis on which risk is estimated is often “ unclear , with little evidence that the growing understanding of aerosol-related transmission has been considered .”
Other nations , including Japan , Germany , South Korea , and ( in some cases ) the UK , are lifting or reimposing restrictions on the basis of epidemiological thresholds . Countries such as Japan have dashboards showing the various factors .
In Germany , local authorities are in charge of lifting restrictions subject to

Countries should meet five criteria before easing lockdowns

Many governments had failed to meet the criteria necessary to avoid new waves of infection

( Top ) EU official : Europe ’ s Covid-19 cases surge ‘ a real cause for concern ’ an “ emergency brake ” mechanism that requires regions to consider reimposing lockdown if there are more than 50 new daily cases per 100,000 residents for seven days in a row . Hong Kong has a similar strategy , while New Zealand has a four-level alert system .
Singapore , South Korea and the UK also have alert levels , but the link to certain measures is not explicit , and “ it is not clear that the UK ’ s system is being used ,” according to the study .
Public trust
For countries to safely reopen , communities should be “ engaged and empowered to protect themselves ” and advice should be “ consistent and credible ,” according to the paper , especially for the most vulnerable populations .
“ To some extent , you can divide countries in the world into two groups , the influenza ones and the SARS / MERS ones ,” said McKee .
“ The Asian countries essentially came at this thinking , this is a disease that we really have to get on top of , because if we don ’ t , it ’ s going to be really bad .” he said .
England ’ s early telephone contact tracers had “ little success ,” while South Korea used health records , credit card transactions , GPS and CCTV , and Hong Kong relied on a police supercomputer system . Many countries have now launched phone apps .
Many are now facing a “ second wave ,” but the authors say it is not too late to apply these lessons . They said “ countries should plan and prepare for the worst-case scenario .”
To avoid a return to a full lockdown , the study said , nations need a clear and transparent plan that states the criteria for moving to the next phase and the measures that entails .
They need robust systems to closely monitor the infection situation ; effective find , test , trace , isolate and support systems ; and continued measures to reduce transmission , such as social bubbles and masks .
It said these systems should be supported by sustained investment in health facilities , supplies and workforce — as recommended by the World Health Organization and International Monetary Fund .

Dogs used to detect coronavirus in pilot project at Helsinki airport

Dogs trained to detect the novel coronavirus began sniffing passenger samples at Finland ’ s Helsinki-Vantaa airport recently , authorities said , in a pilot project running alongside more usual testing at the airport .
The dogs ’ efficiency has not been proven in comparative scientific studies so passengers who volunteer to be tested and are suspected as carrying the virus are instructed to also take a swab to confirm the result .
According to Reuters , a team of 15 dogs and 10 instructors are being trained for the job in Finland by volunteers , sponsored by a private veterinary clinic . Among them is Kossi , a rescue dog from Spain , who was trained as a sniffer dog in Finland and who has worked before detecting cancers .
“ What we ’ ve seen in our research is that the dogs will find ( the disease ) five days before they ( patients ) get any clinical symptoms ,” Anna Hielm-
Bjorkman , who is Adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki and spesialised in clinical research for companion animals , told Reuters .
“ They are very good ( at it ). We come close to 100-percent sensitivity ,” she said , referring to the dogs ’ s ability to detect cases of the virus .
In the canine test , a passenger swipes their neck with a gauze , places it in a can which is then handed over to another room for a dog to sniff and to
deliver an immediate result .
A few months ago , authorities in the United Arab Emirates embarked on similar canine testing at Dubai International Airport using police dogs .
“ In the future , it ’ s also possible ... that these dogs go around passengers in a similar way to customs dogs ,” Vantaa deputy mayor Timo Aronkyto , said .
Pix caption : Dogs were trained to detect SARS-CoV-2 from arriving passengers