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Coronavirus: ‘Deadly resurgence’ if curbs lifted too early, WHO warns

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Coronavirus: 'Deadly resurgence' if curbs lifted too early, WHO warns

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Easter celebrations have been canceled across Spain and people encouraged to worship remotely

The lifting of coronavirus blocking measures too early could trigger a "deadly resurgence" of infections, warned the head of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that countries should be cautious about easing restrictions, even if some struggle with the economic impact.

The hardest hit countries in Europe, Spain and Italy, are relaxing some measures, while their blockades continue.

Globally, there are 1.6 million cases of coronavirus and 101,000 deaths.

Speaking at a virtual press conference in Geneva, Dr. Tedros said there was a "welcome slowdown" in epidemics in some European countries.

He said that WHO is working with governments to develop strategies to ease restrictions, but that this should not be done anytime soon.

"The lifting of restrictions very quickly can lead to a deadly resurgence," he said.

"The way down can be just as dangerous as the way up, if not managed properly."

How are Spain and Italy easing the brakes?

The Spanish government is preparing to allow some non-essential workers in sectors such as construction and industrial production to return to their jobs on Monday.

Spain recorded the lowest number of deaths daily for 17 days on Friday, with 605 people dying. According to the latest figures, Spain recorded 15,843 deaths related to the virus.

However, the government has asked people to continue to maintain the rules of social distance during the long Easter weekend.

Coronavirus: 'Deadly resurgence' if curbs lifted too early, WHO warns

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In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended the national blockade until May 3, warning that the gains obtained so far should not be lost.

However, a small proportion of deals closed since March 12 could reopen on Tuesday.

Mr. Conte specifically mentioned bookstores and children's clothing stores, but media reports suggest that laundries and other services may also be included.

Only supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to operate since the blockade began.

The number of deaths in Italy increased by 570 on Friday, down from the daily number of 610 the previous day, and the number of new cases also decreased slightly to 3,951, from 4,204.

In another place:

  • Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has announced that his country's blocking measures will be extended until May 5
  • Turkey ordered a 48-hour curfew in 31 cities – including Istanbul and Ankara – to start at midnight. The announcement, made just two hours before the curfew began, caused panic in the purchase and crowds of buyers
  • Portugal's state of emergency should remain until May 1, according to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
  • The UK government is under pressure to explain how the brakes can eventually be lifted, but says the blocking restrictions will remain until the evidence shows that the peak has passed
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday night that the country's 21-day blockade would be extended for another 2 weeks – a move that the main opposition party said would cause an economic disaster.

The number of people who died with Covid-19 in France rose almost 1,000 to 13,197 on Friday. However, the number of people in intensive care units dropped slightly for the second consecutive day.

"It looks like we're reaching a plateau, albeit at a high level," said health director Jérôme Salomon.

Is the spread of the virus slowing?

WHO chief Dr Tedros praised the apparent slowdown in infections in some European countries on Friday.

American officials also say the coronavirus outbreak may be starting to stabilize over there. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Friday that while there are encouraging signs, the epidemic has not yet reached its peak.

Coronavirus: 'Deadly resurgence' if curbs lifted too early, WHO warns

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Meanwhile, Dr. Tedros warned that the virus is now spreading rapidly in other countries. He highlighted Africa, where he said the virus had hit rural areas.

"We are now seeing case groups and communities spread across more than 16 countries" on the continent, he said.

"We anticipate serious difficulties for health systems that are already overburdened, especially in rural areas, which normally lack the resources of those in cities."

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