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WHO official warns of coronavirus worsening in Russia unless citizens comply with rules

At the moment, the priority task is to contain the growth rate of infections, Melita Vujnovic said

MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. Russians should develop a responsible approach to complying with the anti-coronavirus measures, otherwise the results achieved by the authorities’ correct steps in fighting the infection could be lost, said Melita Vujnovic, World Health Organization Representative to Russia, in an interview with TASS.

Speaking on the "second wave" of the coronavirus spread, Vujnovic pointed out that it was too early to make this forecast since the world was still going through the pandemic’s early stage. "Now, we cannot predict when the outbreak in each country will reach its peak and where and when further waves should be expected. Now, it is vital to focus on reducing the virus transmission and saving human lives," Vujnovic noted.

"I can say that the scenario of the pandemic in the first and further waves will depend on the steps taken by the country. If we fail to take advantage of the window of opportunities now, which is provided by the current measures on social distancing, isolation and quarantine, in order to actively detect the virus and the means of its transmission, it won’t be defeated and we could expect a deterioration," the WHO representative insisted.

At the moment, the priority task is to contain the growth rate of infections and Russia’s authorities - mainly the sanitary watchdog, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing - have been carefully monitoring the developments in the country, she said. However, a key factor influencing the infection’s spread is people’s behavior.

Vujnovic hoped that special attention to the measures for containing the infection would be paid to the Russian regions, where the virus was recently confirmed. At this stage, it is of vital importance to quickly detect new cases of the infection, track contacts and observe quarantine. "It’s important that those areas where the measures of social and physical distancing are implemented, should ensure full compliance in addition to strict hygienic measures and preventing infections among medical staff," the representative said.

The WHO has introduced a system of evaluating measures and criteria to enable states to estimate how intensively the infection is spreading, how quickly the number of infections is rising and whether there is a risk of overloading the healthcare system. Countries could take this into account when building their strategy for the anti-coronavirus fight. "Neither model nor forecast can give answers to all the questions, but they are useful for evaluating tendencies. In any case, strict compliance with the measures helps to slow the epidemic," Vujnovic noted.

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, more than 2.5 mln people have been infected worldwide and more than 175,000 deaths have been reported.

To date, a total of 57,999 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 4,420 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 513 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.