WHO Expert Says Mass Gatherings Pose Risk When Asked About US Protests

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 01st June, 2020) Mass gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially if the virus is not under control, can pose a risk to public health, Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead at the World Health Organization (WHO), told on Monday a virtual briefing, when asked about the mass protests in the US.

Demonstrators across the United States have been protesting against police brutality and racism since May 25, when George Floyd, an unarmed 46-years-old African American male, died at the hands of a white police officer in the city of Minneapolis.

"I will not speak about any particular event, but what we can say ... is that with increasing social mixing and people coming together, particularly if the virus is not under control, this close contact between people can pose a risk," Van Kerkhove said.

According to the WHO guidance on mass gatherings, whether these are mass gatherings for sports or for religious events or for any other reason, those who plan such events should undertake a very serious rigorous risk assessment, taking into account the local context, the transmission intensity in that area, what is known about the virus, where it is circulating and the potential activity that would take place during that event, as people need to maintain social distance, the expert said.

"Physical distancing remains a very important aspect to control and suppression of transmission of COVID-19. This is not over yet," the expert added.

So far, the United States remains the worst-hit country in the world with more than 1.7 million cases of the coronavirus. The death toll, meanwhile, has surpassed 100,000. The ongoing protests will only deteriorate the epidemiological situation in the country.