The World Health Organisation today called upon countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region to scale up and implement public health and social measures rigorously, and boost the accelerated vaccine rollout in a bid to prevent another surge of COVID-19 as more countries have confirmed the prevalence of highly transmissible variants. Nepal is among 11 countries in this region.

"We need to continuously strengthen our efforts to test, trace and isolate. Societal interventions such as physical distancing, handwashing and proper use of masks need to be stringently implemented.

These measures should be in full force and for longer periods in the areas where more transmissible variants of concern are reported,"

Regional Director at WHO South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a press release.

"These measures are critical for preventing infections, reducing transmission and saving lives", the regional director said. Even as the countries have scaled up vaccination against COVID-19, they need to implement public health and social measures in a tailored and agile way, she said.

A risk-based approach is needed to guarantee the effectiveness of public health and social measures.

These measures should be implemented by the lowest administrative level and continuously adjusted to the intensity of transmission and the capacity of health system. The capacity of the health systems includes both clinical care for COVID and non-COV- ID patients, and public health services such as case detection, diagnostic testing and contact tracing.

"The risk assessment should measure both the actual ability to deliver services and the performance efficacy of those services," Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 21, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.