Global experts have voiced concerns over a second wave of coronavirus that could force governments across the world to have to reinstate strict lockdowns.
The warnings come as the UK prepares to see an ease in lockdown restrictions, with Boris Johnson set to lay out a roadmap at the weekend.
Some countries are starting to loosen their lockdowns, including New Zealand, Germany, Austria and some states in the US, with others putting plans in place to gradually lift restrictions.
But experts have warned that not putting proper systems in place will lead to a second wave of COVID-19 and more deaths.
Public health officials in the US have said they are worried that around half of states have eased shutdowns, with mobile phone data revealing that people are increasingly leaving their homes.
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There are fears that many states have not put robust testing in place and some governors have authorised reopening before their states meet the key benchmark of a 14-day downward trajectory in new infections.
“If we relax these measures without having the proper public health safeguards in place, we can expect many more cases and, unfortunately, more deaths,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has also warned about the importance of easing lockdown restrictions gradually to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
Ardern, who has outlined plans that include keeping the country’s borders shut, restricting gatherings to 100 people or fewer and holding professional sports events without spectators, has said: “We think of ourselves as halfway down Everest. I think it’s clear that no one wants to hike back up that peak.”
In Germany, authorities have begun drawing up plans to cope with any resurgence of the virus while France, which has not yet eased its lockdown, has already drawn up a “reconfinement plan” to cope with a possible second wave of coronavirus.