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WHO urges ‘dialogue’ with people protesting coronavirus curbs

GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday urged governments to engage with people demonstrating against Covid-19 restrictions and listen to their concerns, but stressed protesters needed to understand the virus was dangerous.

Asked about recent demonstrations in a number of countries against coronavirus restrictions, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was important to "listen to what people are asking, what people are saying".

"We should engage in an honest dialogue," he said, stressing though that demonstrators have a responsibility to ensure protests are safe.

"The virus is real. It is dangerous. It moves fast and it kills," he said, insisting "we have to do everything to protect ourselves and to protect others".

German police on Saturday halted a Berlin march by tens of thousands of people opposed to coronavirus restrictions in the biggest of several European protests against facemask rules and other anti-virus curbs.

Speaking about the broader protests, WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan pointed out that "epidemics and emergencies create strong emotions, and acceptance of measures is always very, very tough.

"It is really important that governments don't overreact to people protesting against measures. The real important thing to do is to enter into a dialogue with groups."

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