WHO urges young to help elderly cope with isolation amid coronavirus lockdown

Photo: EFE

Photo: EFE

13:55 | Geneva (Switzerland), Apr. 2.

Coronavirus lockdown measures can have adverse consequences especially among the elderly and sick, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday.

Hans Kluge, head of the WHO Office for Europe, urged younger people to keep in contact with their grandparents and older relatives by calling them every day so they do not feel isolated.

"Supporting and protecting older people living alone in the community is everyone's business," he said during an online press conference in Geneva.

"All older people should be treated with respect and dignity during these times (...). Remember: we leave no one behind."

Kluge said families should help older people to properly understand the information in the media about the coronavirus so they can stay informed.

He added: "A message for all younger viewers: if keeping your grandparents safe means that you cannot visit them in person, talk to them, talk to them every single day so they don't feel alone."

The Spanish Red Cross has identified 400,000 people at high risk from the coronavirus and has launched an informative campaign to keep them up to date with events.

In Ireland, sports associations have started phoning elderly people every day and doing their shopping, leaving items on their doorsteps to avoid any contact that could put them at risk.

Around 9% of cases in the WHO European region have been people older than 60 years and 50% of the total have been over the age of 80.

The tendency to develop a severe form of the disease is probably related to the general state of health of the person more than with their age, according to the WHO.

Kluge said that in eight out of 10 deaths the person had suffered from at least one chronic disease.

He also emphasized that "any notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually false" since between 10% and 15% of moderate to severe cases have been people under 50 years of age.

In Spain and Italy, the most severely affected countries in Europe, 10% of those who have died from coronavirus were aged 70 to 79 years, he added.

Strict or partial confinement has been imposed in most countries in Europe, prompting the WHO to remind all those affected, especially the elderly, to pay attention to their nutrition, maintain physical activity and avoid tobacco and alcohol.

Online exercise courses and dancing to music were suggested as ways to keep moving.

WHO expert Manfred Huber emphasized that maintaining a social connection is essential for people, particularly if they live alone.

He urged people to motivate their relatives and friends by finding activities that interest them and can maintain their physical and mental health.

He also advised keeping a regular sleep routine and avoiding watching the news all day.

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Published: 4/2/2020
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