World Health Organization (WHO) is gravely concerned about dangerous and rapid spread of coronavirus infection COVID-19 in the world and the accompanying negative socio-economic impact on the society and countries.
WHO strongly supports the efforts of countries using scientifically substantiated approaches for containment of transmission and prevention of the spread of infection.
Therefore we express our support and solidarity with the measures taken by Belarus today to fight COVID-19. We appreciate a timely and sound approach of the Belarusian healthcare system to this emergency situation. Significant efforts and resources of the healthcare system have been aimed at early detection of COVID-19 infection using the laboratory diagnostics, at isolation, treatment of patients and tracing their contacts. These are the key measures recommended by WHO to stop coronavirus transmission and prevent the spread of infection.
We also gratefully appreciate the openness of Belarus to sharing information on COVID-19 and timely reporting to WHO in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005), which is critical for coordination of the global efforts of all countries.
We are pleased to note that the Belarusian Ministry of Health regularly provides the population with information about evolution of the situation, recommended protection measures and the response measures that are being taken. Timely informing and engaging the population in prevention of COVID-19 is an important factor in tackling this complex problem.
At this stage, when there is no uncontrolled transmission of infection among the population in the country, the measures taken by Belarus are based upon assessment of current risks and conform to the WHO guidelines.
Unfortunately the epidemiological situation in the world continues to worsen, hence WHO calls on all countries to prepare the health workforce and services for possible continuation of growth and spread of COVID-19. All countries should be prepared to respond to any variants of evolution of the situation given that there is no universally applicable approach. All countries should assess the level of risk they are facing, the measures they are taking and acceptability of these measures for the society, and to promptly take the necessary measures at the appropriate scale in order to stop or slow down the transmission of COVID-19 while minimizing economic, public, and social consequences.
WHO believes that imposing restrictions on movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most cases and may divert resources from other interventions. Moreover, the restrictions may interrupt necessary aid deliveries, disrupt the activities of economic entities, and have negative social and economic effects on the affected countries.
Imposing serious restrictions on international transportation may be justified at the beginning of an outbreak as it may allow countries the time needed for prompt effective preparedness measures. Such restrictions should only be imposed on the basis of a careful risk assessment, be proportionate to the public health risk, act during a short period of time, and be reviewed regularly as the situation evolves.
Active testing, detection of cases, and tracing of contacts along with the measures of social distancing, mobilization of local communities, and strengthening of healthcare systems may prevent transmission of the infection and save people’s lives.
We reiterate our solidarity and support to Belarus in implementation of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.