GLOBALink | Premature lifting of COVID-19 measures may have severe consequences: expert-Xinhua

GLOBALink | Premature lifting of COVID-19 measures may have severe consequences: expert

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-04-15 17:28:47


ISTANBUL, April 15 (Xinhua) -- A leading infectious diseases specialist in Turkey has warned that lifting COVID-19 restrictions before the pandemic is completely over is not the right way to fight the outbreak and could have severe consequences.

The removal of the restrictions puts the fragile part of the population at higher risk and increases the threat of developing new variants, said Mehmet Ceyhan, head of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases of the Ankara-based Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine.

In an online interview with Xinhua, Ceyhan said that many countries, particularly those with economies that haven't been doing well, have recently lifted almost all the restrictions as the Omicron caseloads seem to be decreasing.

"But we experienced the same in the previous waves of the pandemic, and each time, we had to reimpose the restrictions as the number of cases increased again," he said.

"When you do not reach the required number of tests, of course, you will have difficulty in detecting these cases and the numbers would seem to decrease. But this is not the situation we see in the field as physicians. On the contrary, the cases are increasing," he said.

Turkey has also recently lifted many restrictions. Masks are no longer required outdoors and indoors, and the health code requirement has been lifted in all institutions and entities. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is no longer requested from those with no symptoms.

But Ceyhan said that removing these preventive measures carries the risk of promoting new variants, which could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.

"The more contact, the more the virus is transmitted from person to person, and the more likely a new variant is developed," he said. "This is the nature of viruses."

Ceyhan stressed that those over 60 years old and children are still vulnerable groups more likely to be attacked by strains.

"They can lose their lives with the BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant and the Omicron itself," he said, adding that data has already shown that the BA.2 is causing severe symptoms in children, and more children are now being hospitalized globally.

With its increased contagiousness compared to the original Omicron variant, the BA.2 has become the dominant strain in many countries, including the United States, causing the number of cases to rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Pandemic means an uncertain environment. This is the main feature of the pandemic," he said, noting that the current pandemic is very different from the previous ones that have lasted no more than two years.

Referring to the convenience of human mobility in modern times, the expert highlighted the importance of international travel control.

While acknowledging many countries' desire to restore social life and revive their economies, Ceyhan expressed his belief that wearing masks and adhering to social distancing should remain intact as the main prevention and control measures during this pandemic.

"In the mists of the pandemic, if you say that I will take care of this by removing all the measures, many people will die," he said.

As regards China's efforts to curb the spread of the Omicron strain, the expert said despite the increasing number of cases, the situation in China is more under control than in any other place across the world.


Produced by Xinhua Global Service





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