Keeping the borders closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 is unsustainable, the World Health Organization said on Monday, calling on countries to adopt comprehensive strategies based on local knowledge about the spread of the virus.
Border closures and travel restrictions remain an important part of many countries' strategy to combat the novel corona virus.
At the same time, increasing cases in a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere, where measures have been eased after they appear to have brought their outbreaks under control, have spurred discussion of possible new border closures.
However, the UN health agency warned that such measures cannot be maintained indefinitely and are only useful if they are combined with a variety of other measures to detect and interrupt transmission chains.
"Keeping international borders closed is not necessarily a sustainable strategy for the global economy, for the world's poor, or for anyone else," said Michael Ryan, WHO emergency director, in a virtual briefing to journalists.
"It will be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders closed for the foreseeable future," he said, pointing out "that the economies need to open, people have to work, trade needs to start again."
He acknowledged that COVID-19 is impossible to have a "global one size fits all" because outbreaks develop differently in different countries.
While countries with widespread community transmission may need to use the blunt blocking tool to take control of the situation, other countries should dig in to get a clear picture of where and how the virus is spreading locally.
– do not release pressure –
They should be ready to tighten or loosen the measures accordingly, he said, warning against "putting pressure on the virus" that killed around 650,000 people and infected 16.3 million people worldwide.
"Release the pressure on the virus and the numbers can go up again."
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical manager for COVID-19, said that instead of taking drastic measures to keep the virus at bay, people would have to adjust their behavior in the long run.
"What we need to find out … is our new normal looking like?" she told reporters.
"Our new normal includes physical distance from others and wearing masks where appropriate," she said.
"Our new normal means that we know every day where this virus is, where we live, where we work, where we want to go."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)