Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada, we’ve all been dreaming of the day that life returns to normal. Unfortunately, it seems that this might still be a while away. On Tuesday, the WHO released new guidelines for lifting lockdown restrictions, and it seems that normal life is unlikely to resume any time soon.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a brand new set of guidelines, designed to prepare the world for readjusting back to normal life.

While we’re all totally desperate to get out-and-about again as soon as possible, the director-general of the WHO has warned that it’s going to take a while before life can go on again as it did before.

"The way down is much slower than the way up," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained in a speech Monday. "That means control measures must be lifted slowly, and with control. It cannot happen all at once."

To this end, the WHO has released a set of step-by-step guidelines for safely coming out of national lockdown.

The steps outline six different questions that must be asked by each country's officials, before they can think about reopening their economy.

First and foremost, according to the WHO, is: “Is transmission of the virus under control?”

Eleanor Fish, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto, told The Canadian Press that it’s not possible to know if Canada is close to this goal right now, simply because we’re not yet testing enough people.

While provinces like Alberta are being widely commended for their significant COVID-19 testing numbers, regions like Ontario have been criticized for their dwindling testing numbers.

The second question the WHO is urging officials to consider is: “Is the health-care system equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every person who came into contact with a positive case?”

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to be prepared for a new normality, at least until a vaccine is found. He admitted that this could be a year away, if not longer.

“Are outbreaks minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes?” the WHO also asks in their guidelines.

In Canada, the answer is probably no, not yet. In fact, nearly 50% of all novel coronavirus-related deaths here have occurred in long-term care homes.

“Are there measures in workplaces and schools to prevent the spread of the virus?” asks the WHO.

Fortunately, this is already happening. Across Canada, many non-essential businesses and workplaces have been shut for several weeks, and Trudeau has anticipated that this will continue for at least several more. 

In Ontario, Doug Ford has confirmed that students will not be returning to school as planned on May 4, and a new return date is yet to be announced.

“Are the risks of importing more cases from outside the country being managed?” is the next question that must be answered.

So far, so good! Last month, the federal government announced that Canada’s borders would be closed to all non-essential travel, including borders with the U.S.

The Quarantine Act was also implemented, which made the 14-day quarantine period mandatory for all international travellers.

Finally, “Are local communities educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the 'new norm’?”

Last week, Trudeau urged Canadians to be prepared for the “new norm,” noting that life is unlikely to return to normal any time soon.

With experts predicting that Canada's COVID-19 numbers will peak this month, all that’s left to do is wait and see. 

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