The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on Member states in the Southeast Asia Region to scale-up aggressive measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. This announcement was made yesterday (17 March) at New Delhi, calling for urgent actions to be taken following the rapid increase in the number of new cases.
Eight of the 11 countries of WHO Southeast Asia Region currently have confirmed Covid-19 cases, namely Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases are increasing rapidly, according to the WHO.
“More clusters of virus transmission are being confirmed. While this is an indication of an alert and effective surveillance, it also puts the spotlight on the need for more aggressive and whole-of-society efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19. We clearly need to do more, and urgently,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the Regional Director of the WHO Southeast Asia Region.
As the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Southeast Asia Region is nearing 480 as of yesterday, Dr Khetrapal Singh mentioned that some countries are “clearly heading towards community transmission”.
“The situation is evolving rapidly. We need to immediately scale up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people.”
Dr Khetrapal Singh had also emphasised that simple public health measures are critical, such as practising hand hygiene, covering your cough and sneeze, as well as practising social distancing.
“This alone has the potential to substantially reduce transmission.”
However, countries are required to gear their responses to slow down transmission – as well as ending outbreaks – if community transmission does occur. Other than that, the emergency mechanism would need to be further scaled up and a network of health facilities and hospitals for triage and surge would need to be activated to prevent overcrowding.
All suspected cases, symptomatic contacts of probable and confirmed cases are still required to be tested.
For people with mild diseases, it is recommended for them to practise self-initiated isolation as it is the most important community intervention to reduce the burden on the health system, as well as to prevent transmission, said WHO.
“We need to be geared to respond to the evolving situation with the aim to stop transmission of COVID-19 at the earliest to minimize the impact of the virus that has gripped over 150 countries in a short span of time, causing substantial loss to health of people, societies, countries and economies. Urgent and aggressive measures are the need of the hour. We need to act now,” urged the Regional Director of the organisation.