Countries affected by the Covid-19 epidemic may have to deal with a resurgence of the disease after they lift lockdowns, a top WHO official has warned. To create a vaccine could take at least a year, he said

“What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them,” he stressed.

If we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.

Executive Director Mike Ryan, who leads the Health Emergencies Programme at the World Health Organization, also made an apparent reversal on previous advice from the UN body, saying there was no need to test everyone for the coronavirus. Earlier the WHO had been criticized by Finland for asking governments to carpet-test their citizens to deal with the outbreak.

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The vaccine, which will eventually be developed, is needed “to take the battle to the virus,” the health official told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Until then governments should focus on stemming the spread of the disease and saving the lives of those affected worst. The latter includes not only the elderly but also middle-aged people, contrary to a popular misconception.

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