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Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, has urged world leaders to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the global health crisis. He warned the only thing lockdowns achieve is poverty – with no mention of the potential lives they can save. The expert said: “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.
“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
Dr Nabarro’s main criticism of enforcing national lockdowns is the huge impact it has on poorer countries around the world.
He continued in an interview with The Spectator: “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays.
“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. Look what’s happening to poverty levels.
“It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”
National lockdowns became a regular feature earlier this year, with countries desperately trying to curb and control the rapid spread of coronavirus.
Some nations enforced stricter measures than others – in Spain, people were only allowed to leave their house to walk their pet while in China, authorities even welded doors shut to stop residents from leaving their homes.
The WHO now claims these steps were largely unnecessary, with Dr Nabarro suggesting a new strategy for containing the spread of coronavirus.
He said: “We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other.”
Last week, several health experts came together to call for an end to coronavirus lockdowns by creating a petition called the Great Barrington Declaration, which said the strict measures were doing “irreparable damage”.
The petition, which has had more than 12,000 signatures and was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.
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It says: “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.”
But the latest warning from the WHO and global medical experts comes as Mr Johnson announces strict new measures across several areas of England where there has been a significant spike in coronavirus cases.
The Prime Minister has announced a three-tier system of local lockdown restrictions for England, which will see different parts of the country split up into “medium”, “high” or “very high” local coronavirus alert areas.
Tier one restrictions will be baseline restrictions in place throughout the country, including the hospitality sector closing at 10pm and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.
The second tier of restrictions will be rules currently in place throughout much of the North East, where indoor mixing of households is not allowed.
Residents living in areas under the third tier will have to avoid all non-essential travel and not travel between areas.
Bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes may have to close. Schools and places of worship are likely to remain open, but gyms, beauty salons and hairdressers may be among venues that could be shut down by local authorities.
Earlier today, Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of the Government’s COBR committee to finalise what will be announced in the House of Commons.
He is then holding a press conference from Downing Street from 6pm and will be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.
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