The WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, made the call at a COVID-19 media briefing on Friday.

Ghebreyesus warned that if countries rushed to lift , “the virus could resurge and the economic impact could be even more severe and prolonged.”

“Financing the health response is, therefore, an essential investment not just in saving lives, but in the longer-term social and economic recovery,” he added.

The WHO chief advised countries to focus on three key areas – the implementation of core public health measures, the strengthening of health workers’ welfare and the removal of financial barriers to healthcare for all citizens.

“If people delay or forego care because they can’t afford it, they not only harm themselves, they make the pandemic harder to control and put society at risk,” Ghebreyesus said.

He advised governments to “consider using cash transfers to the most vulnerable households to overcome barriers to access.

“This may be particularly important for refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and the homeless.”