The WHO has issued a warning for countries intending to lift their lockdown measures that they could see COVID-19 cases have an "immediate second peak" if they choose to do so too early, according to CTV News.
On Monday, the WHO's Dr. Micheal Ryan said that the world is still "right in the middle of the first wave, globally," during a virtual press briefing.
"When we speak abut a second wave classically, what we often mean is that there'll be a first wave, the disease […] goes to a very low level, and then it [goes back up] a number of months later," said Dr. Ryan in the press briefing. "And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months' time.
"But we need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time," he added. "We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now, that it's going to keep going down and we're going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave.
"We may get a second peak in this wave," said Dr. Ryan.
Dr. Ryan explained that there could be a second peak even within the first wave of a pandemic, as it has already happened in the past, like it did with the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
Dr. Ryan believes that nations in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia must, "continue to put in place the public health and social measures, […] the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy, to ensure that we continue on a downward trajectory," said Dr. Ryan.
Dr. Ryan acknowledged that each country is dealing with their own unique situation with in the pandemic, citing that countries such as Spain have managed to "contain and suppress the disease transmission," whereas in many places in South America, Africa, and South Asia, "many other countries, we're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up."
There are many countries where the lockdown measures have already begun lifting, reopening businesses and public spaces in order to bolster their economies back up. Japan has lifted the state of emergency they had placed over different regions and the city of Tokyo, ending their nation-wide restrictions on Monday.
Here at home, certain provinces are beginning to reopen after only days or weeks of no new cases, however Quebec and Ontario have received some backlash for their decisions to reopen retail stores and workplaces despite their daily case count being well into the hundreds.
Quebec has the leading amount of COVID-19 deaths of anywhere in the country. In Ontario, the case numbers have continued to rise over the past few days and the number of tests conducted pales in comparison to the number of tests available.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said that lifting public lockdown orders should only come with things such as contact tracing and proper testing.
“We remind all countries who are lifting the serious measures they had to make sure that the public health measure, the comprehensive approach is in place, and the right instruments are actually continuing to be implemented,” said Tedros.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO also weighed in on the importance of adhering to all protocols of physical distancing and other protocols. “Let us be perfectly clear: all countries need to […] remain on high alert here,” she said. “Even countries that have seen a decline in cases must remain ready." She added, “The virus will take that opportunity to amplify, if it can.”