Throughout the pandemic, cities in the global network have deployed remarkable efforts to control the virus while also mitigating its uneven social and economic impacts. As a leader in your city, it’s essential that you have access to relevant information and tools.
The intersection of COVID-19 with NCDs has also proven to be dangerous. Those at greatest risk for the most severe COVID-19 complications are often people with underlying conditions, many of which are NCDs or risk factors. These include hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease and heart disease. As the pandemic continues, it is therefore also important for cities to have resources which help them protect their residents from NCDs and injuries.
Throughout the pandemic, the Partnership for Healthy Cities convened leaders in its network to learn from each other as they collectively responded to this public health crisis, including its impact on NCDs and injuries. A number of webinars welcomed city leaders, COVID-19 city responders and technical leads and allowed them to share priorities, strategies, lessons learned and challenges around specific areas of pandemic response.
Disclaimer: The science around COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and the situation reports and science briefs presented in the webinars below are not the most current. Viewers should be sure to consult the weekly science reviews in our Library and the WHO COVID-19 Homepage for the most up-to-date evidence on COVID-19.
Below is information on some of the most frequently asked questions. Cities within the Partnership for Healthy Cities network are also encouraged to reach out with requests for specific technical information.
Please check the WHO COVID-19 homepage and the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs from Prevent Epidemics for comprehensive, up-to-date answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety, efficacy, equitable allocation and distribution, misinformation, concerns regarding pregnancy and lactation, and post-vaccination, drawn from evidence-based sources.
Cities worldwide are encouraged to follow guidance from their national health authorities, as well as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommend the use of face masks or coverings for the general public in a variety of settings. If used properly and in conjunction with physical distancing, masks can help slow the spread of the virus in the general population. Specific guidance on when and how to use masks is available in the WHO Q&A on masks and the CDC guidance on masks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a massive "infodemic": an overabundance of information, much of which is inaccurate. This could make it difficult for residents in your city to find trustworthy and scientifically valid guidance when they need it. The best way to remedy the infodemic is to share consistent and easy-to-understand messages from reliable and trustworthy sources. The World Health Organization has developed a number of resources to help in this regard, including a mythbusters page and a WHO Health Alert to combat misinformation in real-time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Johns Hopkins Medicine also have pages dedicated to identifying and correcting common COVID-19 myths. For more information, you can also read this report from the Pan American Health Organization.
Deciding to close or re-open schools should be guided by a risk-based approach, taking into consideration the epidemiology of COVID-19 at the local level, the capacity of educational institutions to adapt their system to operate safely; the impact of school closures on educational loss, equity, general health and wellbeing of children; and the range or other public health measures being implemented outside school. If a decision is made to reopen schools, make sure systems are in place to ensure the operation is well planned. WHO has published a checklist to support schools re-reopening, adhering to the public health measures outlined in the WHO guidelines.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for many people. Promoting effective coping strategies and scaling up mental health services can make your city and its residents stronger. Information from the World Health Organization can be found here.
COVID-19 can exacerbate risks of violence for cisgender and transgender women and girls in a city. During the pandemic there may also be increasing challenges in maintaining support and care for survivors of violence. Fortunately, there are strategies to mitigate the effects of violence on women and children. You can access suggestions from the World Health Organization here and from UN Women here.
The decision to introduce, adapt or lift public health and social measures should be based primarily on a situational assessment of the intensity of transmission and the capacity of the health system to respond, but must also be considered in light of the effects these measures may have on the general welfare of society and individuals. The World Health Organization has produced guidance on considerations for adjusting some of these measures. Information on the Prevent Epidemics “Box It In” strategy, which provides details on some of the preconditions, can be found here.
Many public health and social measures, like closures of schools and restrictions on gatherings, can be used to slow the spread of COVID-19. Once these policies have been implemented, it is critical to monitor their impacts, especially among vulnerable and minority groups. Policies and interventions should be accompanied by regular dialogue through trusted channels to provide the right information at the right time, to enable people to make informed decisions to protect themselves. Compliance can be maximized and sustained by tailoring policies to local contexts and balancing them with countermeasures, such as food distribution and income support. The COVID-19 Response Playbook from Prevent Epidemics can help decision-makers manage and adapt their public health response to COVID-19.
In general, laws that apply differently to different groups should be avoided as these can be discriminatory. You can find more information on how to appropriately use public health and social measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission in your city from WHO guidance.