The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned of the risks of returning to lockdown if countries emerging from pandemic restrictions do not manage transitions "extremely carefully and in a phased approach".
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus listed a series of steps needed before countries lift measures designed to control the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory disease, such as surveillance controls and health system preparedness.
"The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully and in a phased approach," he said at a virtual briefing in Geneva.
He also said that it was not possible to return to business as usual when the pandemic eventually ebbs, stressing the need for investment in health systems.
"The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually recede but there can be no going back to business as usual," he said.