Coronavirus pandemic: WHO releases new guidance for outdoor events, mass gatherings
The WHO has called on public health authorities and event organizers to perform a risk assessment before any gathering and listed a number of steps organizers could take if large events do occur. Read more on this...
As the countries across the world are taking steps to gradually lift coronavirus lockdowns, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidance for mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, recommending a number of possible changes to large events -- once they’re allowed to take place.
According to the guidance issued by the UN agency on Saturday, holding gatherings outdoors, limiting attendance to healthy people and staggering arrivals could all help limit the spread of the highly-contagious virus.
“In the context of Covid-19, mass gatherings are events that could amplify the transmission of the virus and potentially disrupt the host country’s response capacity,” the guidance said. But it said large events offered benefits, too, such as providing employment and boosting psychological well-being.
“Since mass gatherings have substantial political, cultural, social, and economic implications, authorities should assess the importance and necessity of an event and consider the option that it may take place, provided all associated public health risks are adequately addressed and mitigated,” it stated.
So far, more than 6 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, including at least 368,711 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The WHO called on public health authorities and event organizers to perform a risk assessment before any gathering and listed a number of steps organizers could take if large events do occur, such as:
-- Staggering arrivals
-- Increasing the frequency of transport
-- Designating seating
-- Venue capacity could also be adjusted
-- Events could be held virtually or outdoors
Some recommendations focused on participants, reminding people to observe physical distancing, cough etiquette and hand hygiene practices.
People at risk of developing severe illness – including those over the age of 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions – could be advised to stay away, or special arrangements could be made for them.
The WHO recommendations included a number of other measures as well, such as limiting the duration of events and providing on-site isolation facilities for people who become sick.