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Quimby: Follow WHO directions on lifting restrictions

For Release Upon Receipt - Saturday, April 25, 2020

Quimby: Follow WHO directions on lifting restrictions

Scientific researchers at The UWI Cave Hill Campus have highlighted the need for Caribbean countries to follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding how to lift restrictions that were put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

This was one of the topics raised during an April 22 discussion forum entitled ‘UWI on the frontline: Combatting COVID-19 through data’.

The WHO recommends that lifting restrictions can be considered when the level of transmission is restricted to sporadic cases or cluster of cases.

In that regard, senior lecturer in Immunology Dr Kim Quimby told the online audience that increased surveillance and testing will be key to achieving that goal.

“But how do we know if we’re having sporadic cases or if we’re having a cluster of cases? We really need to ramp up our surveillance and our testing. The only way we can know is if we have widespread surveillance and testing,” Quimby said.

Her colleague, Dr Madhuvanti Murphy, Deputy Dean of Research at the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, also stressed the need for surveillance, saying it will guide the countries in determining their next steps.

“This is not a time to be worried about which country is in a better position than others but really focusing on surveillance in terms of using that to inform continued decision making that can impact those trajectories. So if the trajectories are going up a bit, those can change if we put in the relevant strategies and put them in early on,” Dr Murphy said.

The WHO also recommends that countries have sufficient public health capacity to enable a major shift from detecting and treatment of serious cases to detection and isolation of all cases.

Additionally, the WHO has advised countries to ensure that communities are fully engaged so that they understand the transition entails a major shift from detecting and treating only serious cases, to detecting and isolating all cases.

“We have to ensure that communities understand that this is going to be a new normal; that as we’re lifting the restrictions it’s not really a relaxation of all the rules. We need to communicate to them very carefully what it actually means,” Dr. Quimby said.

Other recommendations call for minimising the risk of outbreaks in high-risk, vulnerable settings such as health care and assisted living facilities, as well as reducing the risk of imported cases.

Countries have also been advised to establish preventive measures in the workplace.

“This calls for great communication and maybe some intervention. So we’re talking about lifting restrictions, re-opening schools and opening workplaces, but are we going to go back to the workplace or the school (with) the same measures that existed before? “No, we need to communicate to persons how they can keep social distance in their workplace, how they can facilitate hand washing or hand sanitization in their workplaces. So it might call for intervention where we go into schools and workplaces and have a site visit and see what’s the best way that we can reopen,” Dr. Quimby said.

-End-

Related News:

Visit www.cavehill.uwi.edu/covid19/homefor more on the Cave Hill Campus response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport.

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018. The UWI was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. For more, visit www.uwi.edu.

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)










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