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UN human rights chief warns against quick lifting of COVID-19 lockdown

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THE UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, has called on countries across the world to be more cautious in their move to relax COVID-19 lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

   Ms Bachelet, a former medical doctor, minister of health, and President of Chile, gave her advice while speaking to journalists from Geneva on Thursday.

  She warned of potential risks, including the “danger of a second wave” that could cost many more lives if countries lift restrictions without adequate plans.

  In the same breadth, she acknowledged the socio-economic difficulties resulting from prolonged lockdowns imposed by governments to stop the spread of the virus.

  According to her, balancing the economic imperatives with the health and human rights demands of the COVID-19 response will be one of the most “defining experiences for all leaders and all governments”.

  She said: “Their place in history will be decided by how well or how badly they perform over the coming months.

  “If their response is based on the interests of a particular elite, causing the disease to flare up again in other less privileged or marginalised communities, it will rebound on everyone.

  “If an affected country comes out of lockdown too hastily, there is a danger that a second wave, costing many more lives, will be triggered sooner and more destructively than would otherwise be the case.

  “If the re-opening of societies is mishandled, all the huge sacrifices made during the initial lockdown will have been for nothing.

  “However, the damage to individuals and to economies, will not just be retained – it will be significantly amplified.”

  As of Thursday morning, the disease had infected more than 4.2 million people and killed no fewer than 294,000 others, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

  The UN says COVID-19 continues to disrupt the lives of billions across the planet.

  These include “countless workers and students who are now confined to their homes in efforts to protect lives from the deadly disease”.

  Ms Bachelet urged countries to adhere to WHO guidelines in relaxing movement restrictions and lockdowns.

  WHO guidelines emphasise that transmission needs to be controlled while healthcare systems must be able to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace contacts.

  The UN human rights chief also called for measures to protect employees as the disease continues to cost millions their jobs around the world.

  It will be recalled that Nigeria is one of the countries that has eased its lockdown, instead imposing a dusk to dawn curfew (8 p.m. to 6 a.m.) nationwide.

  Since easing the lockdown about a week ago, Nigeria’s coronavirus cases and resultant deaths have continued to increase, surpassing 5,000 cases mark as at today Friday May 15, 2020.

  According to report, the rising number of cases is prompting Lagos State Governor, Sanwo Olu to consider re-imposition of a lockdown on the country’s most populous state which still leads in number of cases in Nigeria, as residents serially violate safety measures put in place to check the spread of the virus.

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