Measures such as physical distancing have been powerful, but they are only defensive measures, explained WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Physical distancing measures can give countries a second chance to save lives by buying time while more aggressive measures are developed. But there "comes a time when you have to step forward", said Michael J. Ryan, Chief Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies.
Those aggressive tactics include:
Strategic testing, tracing and isolation of contacts. Health workers should prioritize testing suspected cases. Once infected cases are identified, contact tracing can help further prevent the spread of the disease. “We know that is [an] effective way to prevent onward transmission,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead.
Staying informed. The most recent, reliable information is key. WHO officials recommended that people stay up-to-date with recommendations from their governments to know their role. “Fear is normal", said Van Kerkhove. “It can be used in a productive way”.
A special messaging service launched in partnership with WhatsApp and Facebook last week is one way WHO officials say people can get reliable information. Since its launch last Friday, the service now has 10 million users and will be expanded into languages such as French, Spanish and Arabic this week.
Developing effective therapeutics. As there is yet no treatment for coronavirus, research will be essential. Measures such as the Solidarity Trial launched last week, an international WHO initiative that compares untested treatments with each other, can speed the search for a solution.
"Small, observational and non-randomized studies will not give us the answers we need”, said the Director-General. Findings “without the right evidence could raise false hope and even do more harm than good".