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Public Health And Social Measures Remain The Key To Stop Coronavirus Transmission: WHO South-East Asia Region

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said efforts to test, trace, isolate, and treat must be scaled up along with communities practising cough etiquette, hand hygiene and social distancing

Public Health And Social Measures Remain The Key To Stop Coronavirus Transmission: WHO South-East Asia Region
  • Hand hygiene, physical distancing and face mask are tools against COVID
  • Physical distancing, movement restrictions can slow COVID transmission: WHO
  • Virus variants need a quick and coordinated global response: WHO

New Delhi: Adoption of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is the best way to stop transmission of the virus and its variants, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said here as she underlined that efforts to test, trace, isolate, and treat need to be scaled up. In an interview to PTI on the recent surge in coronavirus cases, Dr Singh also spoke about the importance of communities practising cough etiquette, hand hygiene and social distancing in the fight against the disease.

Also Read: Non-Adherence To COVID-19 Norms, Virulent Strains Could Be Behind Surge In Infections: AIIMS Chief

India has been registering a record number of cases of coronavirus since April beginning. With a record 1,45,384 fresh cases, India’s COVID-19 tally climbed to 1,32,05,926 on Saturday (April 10). The number of active cases of the disease has breached the 10-lakh mark again after around six-and-a-half months. Speaking to PTI, Dr Singh said stringent implementation of public health and social measures remain the key to stop virus transmission. Physical distancing measures and movement restrictions can slow COVID-19 transmission by limiting contact between people, she said in response to a question.

However, a careful risk assessment and staged approach is needed to balance the benefits and potential harms of adjusting these measures. Decisions to tighten or loosen or re-institute these measures should be based on scientific evidence and real-world experience and should take into account other critical factors, such as economic factors, food security, adherence to measures etc, she added.

Asked about lockdowns, Dr Singh said local epidemiology and risk assessment, including capacities of health systems, should guide decisions imposing such curbs.

Regardless of lockdowns, public health and social measures remain the key to stop virus transmission. Efforts to test, trace, isolate, and treat must be scaled up along with communities practising cough etiquette, hand hygiene and social distancing, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director added.

Also Read: UK Variant Of Coronavirus Is Spreading Four To Six Times Faster: Member Of Gujarat COVID Task Force

On variants of the virus, she said information on their occurrence is currently not systematic and universal.

But what we know for sure is that to limit the emergence of variants of concerns, we need to do all we can to curtail virus transmission, Dr Singh added.

She said WHO was tracking variants of interest through its Virus Evolution Working Group.

WHO has also developed a Risk Monitoring Framework to identify, monitor and assess SARS-CoV-2 mutations, variants of interest and variants of concern. It will involve surveillance, through epi studies, molecular testing and genomic sequencing; research on variants of concern and evaluation of the impact on diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, Dr Singh added.

“Virus variants need a quick and coordinated global response. WHO is leading discussions to shape an agile, global decision framework that can be activated to adapt vaccines, diagnostic tests, treatments, prevention measures and other tools if the need arises,” she further said.

Also Read: Mutants, Sluggish Vaccine Drive, Carelessness: Add Them And You Get COVID Surge, Say Top Scientists

Replying to a query on re-infection, Dr Singh said most people develop an immune response within one-three weeks following the infection, but “we are still learning how strong the immunity is or how long it may last”.

There are studies showing that antibody response in people may last many months (possibly six or longer), but there are some differences in the strength of the response depending on the severity of the disease the person experienced (no disease, mild disease to severe disease), she said.

There are some reports of reinfection, though this is not systematically monitored. From previous experience with other coronaviruses, we expect there to be an antibody response that declines over time. We need more research to answer this fully, especially longitudinal studies that follow the same individual over time and measure the neutralizing antibody response, Dr Singh added.

“We urge everyone – whether they have had COVID-19 or not – to take precautions including physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, wearing a mask and ensuring adequate ventilation to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19,” she said.

Asked how the second wave of the virus can be expected to proceed, Dr Singh said from the epidemiology perspective, no one can predict where it is going.

However, from our past experience from several countries in the last one year, we have evidence that implementation of public health measures and adoption of COVID-19 appropriate behaviours are proven strategies to curtail virus transmission, she said.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Terms ‘Tika Utsav’ Beginning Of Second Big War Against Coronavirus, Makes Four Requests

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,24,98,327 and 49,29,776 have died; 20,40,54,102 are active cases and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 5:24 am.


3,41,43,236 15,786Cases
3,35,14,449 18,641Recovered
4,53,042 231Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,43,236 confirmed cases including 4,53,042 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,75,745 and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

65,98,218 1,573

27,899 1,434

64,30,394 2,968

1,39,925 39


48,88,523 8,733

82,093 1,240

47,79,228 9,855

27,202 118


29,84,849 365

9,017 86

29,37,848 443

37,984 8

Tamil Nadu

26,91,797 1,164

13,790 268

26,42,039 1,412

35,968 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,303 493

5,500 66

20,42,476 552

14,327 7

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,068 10

107 5

16,87,062 14

22,899 1

West Bengal

15,83,646 833

7,535 44

15,57,090 775

19,021 14


14,39,488 22

311 1

14,14,087 21



10,37,056 524

4,336 51

10,24,422 573

8,298 2


10,05,773 38

206 21

9,91,995 16

13,572 1


9,54,395 2

36 2

9,45,405 4



8,26,353 13

156 20

8,16,110 33


Madhya Pradesh

7,92,721 12

88 6

7,82,110 6



7,71,125 9

131 2

7,60,945 11



7,26,042 6

30 0

7,16,351 6



6,69,739 183

3,967 1

6,61,829 183

3,943 1


6,07,811 384

3,762 152

5,98,087 228

5,962 4


6,02,135 22

226 6

5,85,358 27

16,551 1


3,48,526 40

166 24

3,43,225 16



3,43,787 14

176 0

3,36,213 14


Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,386 87

814 14

3,26,143 73


Himachal Pradesh

2,22,138 202

1,452 58

2,16,955 140

3,731 4


1,77,765 59

618 21

1,73,790 35

3,357 3


1,27,564 43

454 7

1,25,258 50



1,23,051 81

1,346 14

1,19,800 94

1,905 1


1,15,944 737

10,034 229

1,05,510 962

400 4


84,369 18

105 10

83,448 8



83,210 52

735 26

81,034 76

1,441 2


65,315 3

26 2

64,469 1


Arunachal Pradesh

55,065 22

140 2

54,645 20



31,819 19

185 10

31,241 9



31,670 11

250 5

30,743 15

677 1


20,896 10

43 9

20,645 1


Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,678 2

4 2





0 0



Andaman And Nicobar Islands


7 0



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