WHO COVID-19 Strategy Update

Date of Publication
2020

The WHO published an update to its COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Among the changes is a new section that includes guidance regarding conditions and considerations that should inform decisions regarding efforts to relax existing social distancing measures.

The document emphasizes that countries must eliminate or maintain low levels of community transmission in order to contain the pandemic and that community transmission necessitates “exceptional measures” to rapidly suppress it. Notably, the WHO explicitly states that the decisions regarding implementing and relaxing social distancing measures should be made at the lowest levels of government to ensure “a tailored and appropriate response depending on the situation and capacities to respond.”

The guidance outlines 6 principal considerations and capacities to consider in order to maintain suppressed community transmission:

  • Reducing transmission to sporadic transmission or clusters of cases
  • Establishing and maintaining sufficient public health and healthcare capacity, including testing, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation
  • Mitigating transmission risk in vulnerable settings, such as healthcare facilities and nursing homes
  • Implementing necessary protective measures for workplaces and schools, including physical distancing, improved hygiene, and temperature/symptom screening
  • Reducing risk of imported cases, including traveler screening and monitoring
  • Engaging and educating the public to ensure protective measures are implemented effectively as changes are made to existing policies and restrictions