Returning to office "depends hugely" on local virus levels, says WHO Special Envoy

29 August 2020, 12:04

By Seán Hickey

The WHO's Special Envoy on Covid-19 hinted that it is "safe enough" to return to the office - provided coronavirus transmission in a specific area is low.

Dr David Nabarro of Imperial College London told Tom Swarbrick that "the safety of a workplace depends hugely on how much virus is being transmitted in an area and how good we are as a society at suppressing the transmission and holding the virus back."

The Special Envoy on Covid-19 told Tom "we're getting better" at suppressing the virus but he doesn't think Western Europe is "fully there yet."

"People are much more respectful of this virus now than they were at the beginning," he thought.

Tom wanted to know how concerned Dr Nabarro was that "we're still not hitting the government's own targets" for test trace and isolate, which the World Health Organisation official noted as crucial to keeping the virus rate low.

"I'd like to see things getting better," Dr Nabarro revealed. He went on to note that "building up a system for testing and tracing is not something you can just do overnight" and more work must be done to have an effective system in place.

Dr David Nabarro told LBC that local monitoring of coronavirus is crucial when making decisions to travel to work
Dr David Nabarro told LBC that local monitoring of coronavirus is crucial when making decisions to travel to work. Picture: PA

He stressed again that local monitoring of the virus is crucial when making a decision on whether to return to the office, telling Tom that "you have to be leading locally when you're dealing with viruses."

When pushed on whether or not he believes the UK is safe enough for people to return to the office, Dr Nabarro said "it depends on whats happening with the virus in your local area."

"Safe enough means being able to know where the virus is in your local area," he reiterated.

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