Europe could be hit by second deadly wave of coronavirus in winter: WHO warning
Issuing the stark warning to countries beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions, WHO Europe director Hans Kluge that now is the "time for preparation, not celebration".
The WHO in Europe has warned that European countries should brace themselves for a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections in winter because the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
Dr Hans Kluge, director of the World Health Organisation in Europe, said now was the time to prepare for the second wave of the virus as the continent sees falling rates of the virus.
So far, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 4.4 million people worldwide, including at least 302,000 deaths.
Kluge told The Telegraph: “I'm very concerned about a double wave - in the fall, we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles. Two years ago we had 500,000 children who didn't have their first shot of the measles vaccine.”
Issuing the stark warning to countries beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions, Kluge said that now is the "time for preparation, not celebration".
“Singapore and Japan understood early on that this is not a time for celebration, it's a time for preparation. That's what Scandinavian countries are doing - they don't exclude a second wave, but they hope it will be localised and they can jump on it quickly.”
He said that as the number of cases of COVID-19 in countries such as the UK, France and Italy was beginning to fall, it did not mean the pandemic was coming to an end. The epicentre of the European outbreak is now in the east, with the number of cases rising in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Kluge said that increased public health resources and a building of capacity in hospitals, primary and intensive care units, ought to be the priority.
Citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic, England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first.
Kluge said that today there were 1.78 million confirmed cases in the WHO's European region and 160,000 deaths. This accounts for 43 per cent of cases and 56 per cent of the fatalities worldwide.
Russia, the UK and Spain remain among the top ten countries in the world in reporting new cases in the last 24 hours.
Kluge said that without effective treatment or a vaccine the easing of lockdown had to be slow and careful.
“People think lockdown is finished. Nothing has changed. The full disease control package has to be in place. That's the key message,” he told The Telegraph.