WHO Warns of A Second Deadly Wave of COVID-19

Health | May 18, 2020, Monday // 11:08|  views

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European countries must prepare for a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections as the pandemic is not over, said a top World Health Organization official in Europe. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO's director for the European region, warned countries that are beginning to ease their restrictions, saying it is now "time to prepare, not to celebrate."

Dr Kluge emphasized that the fact that the number of COVID-19 cases in countries such as Britain, France and Italy was starting to decline did not mean that the pandemic was coming to an end. "The epicenter of the European outbreak is now to the east, with the number of cases increasing in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan," he warned.  

"Countries need to use this time wisely and start strengthening public health systems, as well as building capacity in hospitals, emergency departments and intensive care units”, he said.``

He warned that the second wave could coincide with an outbreak of other infectious diseases. "I am very concerned about the possibility of a double wave - in the fall we may have a second wave of COVID and another from seasonal flu or measles."  

Many experts warn that the second wave of the pandemic could be even more deadly than the first, citing the 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic as evidence. When the Spanish flu first appeared in March 1918, it had the hallmarks of a typical seasonal disease - but then returned to an even more virulent and deadly form in the fall, eventually killing 50 million people. 

"We know from history that in pandemics, countries that have not been affected so much before can be hit by a second wave," Kluge said.

Kluge said the lack of treatment or vaccine means that any easing of blocking restrictions must be done "gradually and carefully."  adding: "People think the blockade is over. Nothing has changed. The full disease control package must be in place. That's the key message." He added that he hoped the pandemic would show that health should now be at the top of the political agenda.

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