Considerations for implementing and adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance, 14 June 2021


Public health and social measures (PHSM) have proven critical to limiting transmission of COVID-19 and reducing deaths. The decision to introduce, adapt or lift PHSM 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. Indicators and suggested thresholds are provided to gauge both the intensity of transmission and the capacity of the health system to respond; taken together, these provide a basis for guiding the adjustment of PHSM. Measures are indicative and need to be tailored to local contexts. PHSM must be continuously adjusted to the intensity of transmission and capacity of the health system in a country and at sub-national levels. When PHSM are adjusted, communities should be fully consulted and engaged before changes are made. In settings where robust PHSMs are otherwise in place to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, allowing the relaxation of some measures for individuals with natural or vaccine-induced immunity may contribute to limiting the economic and social hardship of control measures. Applying such individualized public health measures must take into account a number of ethical and technical considerations.