European countries may be relaxing coronavirus restrictions and reopening their economies, but the pandemic is far from over, a World Health Organization official warned.
Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, urged leaders to prepare for a second, more deadly wave of the infection. The disease has already sickened more than 4.7 million people worldwide and killed at least 315,822, based on data from Johns Hopkins University.
In an exclusive interview with the a news paper, Kluge stressed that even though the number of cases across a broad swath of the continent — including Italy, France, and the UK — are falling, “now is the time for preparation, not celebration.”
The outbreak’s center has simply moved east, he said, into Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. So officials would be well served by using this lull to their advantage by bolstering local hospital systems, as per news report. Kluge hailed Singapore, Japan, and Scandinavian countries as models, saying, “They don’t exclude a second wave, but they hope it will be localized and they can jump on it quickly.”
A group of worshippers wear face masks and maintain social distancing at a May 18 mass at Madrid’s Santa Barbara Church that reopened to the public after 64 days of closure due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I’m very concerned about a double wave,” he said. “In the fall, we could have a second wave of COVID and another one of seasonal flu or measles.”
“The question is when and how big, that is the question in my view”, says Dr Andrea Ammon, Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Talking via Skype from her residence, she insists a disastrous second wave isn’t inevitable if individuals stick with the principles and maintain their distance however there may be treasured little else to reassure these anxious a few rise in instances.
“We know from history that in pandemics the countries that have not been hit early on can be hit in a second wave,” Kluge said. “What are we going to see in Africa and Eastern Europe? They’re behind the curve.”
A second wave of coronavirus is almost guaranteed in Europe – the question is “when and how big”, according to the head of the European Union’s centre for disease control.
She estimated that immunity was anywhere between 2 and 14 per cent in European countries.
“Looking at the characteristics of the virus, looking at what now emerges in from the different countries in terms of population immunity – which isn’t all that exciting between 2 per cent and 14 per cent, that leaves still 85 per cent to 90 per cent of the population susceptible – the virus is around us, circulating much more than January and February.”
Kluge’s warning comes as European nations begin to resume some semblance of a normal life
Some German restaurants have resumed business and France has stopped requiring people to show travel permits that explain why they left their homes, according to the news agency.
A restaurant in Bologna, Italy, prepares to reopen on May 18, 2020 after two-plus months in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. As businesses resume activities, social distancing is a must.
In Spain, groups of up to 10 people can meet, bars and restaurants have reopened outdoor seating but at half their maximum capacity, small shops are back in business, and movie theatres and museums can welcome guests, albeit at a reduced capacity, another channel reported.
As of Monday, restaurants, bars, hair salons, shops, and churches in Italy can reopen their doors, so long as people maintain social distancing from each other.
But without an anti-viral drug or vaccine to treat the coronavirus, Kluge said the loosening of restrictions has to go hand-in-hand with widespread testing and contact tracing. Face masks and social distancing are also important.