The regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) based in New Delhi has cautioned against any relaxation of response actions following the recent slight decline in Covid-19 cases in South Asia.
In a statement on Monday, it said the pandemic ‘continues unabated’ and the response of countries needs to be strengthened further to curtail virus transmission.
“There should be no complacency in view of the declining numbers in recent weeks. The region still reports large numbers of Covid-19 cases. We need to continue to do our very best to curtail the pandemic,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia.
The upcoming festival season and approaching winter threatens to aggravate the situation if we let our guards down, she said.
Countries in the region must continue to scale up capacities for timely detection, testing, tracing contacts, isolating the affected and providing hospital care to those who need it with more vigour, she added.
WHO recommends that during the festive season in India, Nepal and other South Asian countries, individuals need to maintain physical distance, hand hygiene, cough etiquette and wear a mask when and where needed. “People must remember the three Cs: avoid crowded places, avoid closed settings and avoid confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation,” the statement said.
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The co-circulation of seasonal influenza and Covid-19 in winter may present challenges for health systems and health facilities, since both diseases present many similar symptoms. Many of the same measures that are effective in preventing Covid-19 are also effective for preventing influenza, including physical distancing, hand hygiene, covering coughs, ventilation and masks, health experts say.
The WHO regional office said it was working with countries to take a holistic approach to the preparedness, prevention, control and treatment of all respiratory diseases, including influenza and Covid-19.
For the third week in a row, the WHO South Asian region registered a 6–8 % decline in the number of Covid-19 cases, mainly due to a decrease in reported cases from India and Bangladesh.
Home to one-fourth of the worlds’ population, South Asia has reported over 8 million of the nearly 40 million cases globally, mostly from the most populous countries which also face unique demographic and geographic challenges.
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