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World News

Opening up without control of COVID-19 is recipe for disaster, says WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) - Countries with significant active spread of coronavirus must prevent amplifying events, as opening up without the virus being under control would be a “recipe for disaster”, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recognised that many people are getting tired of restrictions and want to return to normality eight months into the pandemic.

The WHO fully supported efforts to reopen economies and societies, he told a news conference, adding: “We want to see children returning to school and people returning to workplaces, but we want to see it done safely.”

“No country can just pretend the pandemic is over,” he said. “The reality is this virus spreads easily. Opening up without control is a recipe for disaster.”

“Explosive outbreaks” have been linked to gatherings of people at stadiums, nightclubs, places of worship and other crowds, where the respiratory virus can spread easily among clusters of people, Tedros said.

“Decisions about how and when to allow gatherings of people must be taken with a risk-based approach, in the local context,” he said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge in Geneva and John Revill in Zurich; Editing by Giles Elgood

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