The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said on Monday that countries which are looking to exit their lockdowns, initiated to break the chain of Covid-19, must not relax all restrictions at once, AP reported. Mike Ryan said, instead, countries need to adopt a “calibrated, step-wise approach” to ending the lockdowns.

“It probably would be a bad idea to lift all the lockdown restrictions,” Ryan said. “The lockdown is pushing the disease down. Once you raise the lockdown, you have to have an alternative method to suppress the infection.” He said that the method should be such that it keeps the spread of the coronavirus in control.

Most countries around the world have now put extensive restrictions in place to battle the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 13,48,000 people globally and has killed over 74,800, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University. Ryan said these restrictions include shutdowns of schools, workplaces and social gatherings in venues such as public places and parks. Some countries, like India, have even prohibited leaving the home for non-essential purposes.

Lockdowns in several countries, however, are scheduled to end later this month. In India, where 4,421 cases of the coronavirus and 114 deaths had been reported till Tuesday morning, the 21-day lockdown is scheduled to end on April 14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on April 2 told chief ministers in a video conference that they must evolve strategies for “staggered re-emergence” of movement following the lockdown.

Italy, one of the worst-affected countries in Europe, will end its lockdown on April 12. In Germany, the lockdown is scheduled to end on April 19. In Spain, which has recorded the second highest Covid-19 death toll in the world so far after Italy, confinement rules will cease to operate on April 26. The rate of new coronavirus infections has dropped in all these countries. In the United States, the lockdown will continue till April 30.

Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday that from April 14, smaller shops up to 400 square metres, as well as hardware and garden stores, can open again, but under strict security. Denmark also announced plans to start reopening nurseries and primary schools from April 15, provided the rate of infections remains stable.