The World Health Organisation (WHO) emphasised on the importance of navigating the “new normal” in the post-COVID era and finding a way to live with the virus. During a media joint media briefing by the UN health agency and the World Economic Forum (WEF), Dr Takeshi Kasai, Regional Director of WHO Western Pacific, said that the world is in the midst of a complex challenge and any relaxation in restrictions should be based on scientific evidence and data.
The COVID-19 response has severely affected livelihoods in many countries and some of them are adamant about reopening businesses to move towards recovery. The WHO official asserted that one should not choose between health and livelihoods and both should be the part of the response plan.
Kasai warned governments against emulation of response strategy from other countries saying there is not a “one-size-fits-all approach”. As several nations are moving forward to relax the COVID-19 restrictions and lifting lockdowns, there is a palpable fear of a second wave with fresh clusters of cases.
“We might not do it in a perfect way at the very start. But we all have to learn as we move,” said Kasai.
The WHO official was joined by Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, who cautioned against protectionism as the world trade is witnessing unprecedented contraction. Arguing for open trade policy, Dr Rebecca said protectionism is not going to help economies and added that there is a need to open the markets but it has to be planned and stable.
“At this time, it’s important that we not retreat into protectionist measures...and support each other in this endeavour,” she said.
Dr Rebecca said that governments need to provide greater support for the health system and social protection. She also suggested reducing the tariff on medicines and taking care of vulnerable economies as well as those vulnerable in the economies.