Europe ‘must prepare for second deadly wave’ of coronavirus this winter

Europe
epaselect epa08427188 A soldier belonging to the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy (NRDC-ITA) clad in a hazmat suit disinfects the now-empty intensive care unit (ICU) and former COVID-19 units at the Saronno Hospital in Saronno, northern Italy, 17 May 2020. Italy has entered Phase 2 in its lockdown de-escalation plan after more than two months since the strict confinement measures to slow down the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the pandemic disease were implemented. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced that gyms and swimming pools will reopen on 25 May, that international travel and movement between Italy's regions will be allowed again without the until-now mandatory two-week quarantine starting 3 June and cinemas and theaters are set to open their doors on 15 June. EPA/ANDREA FASANI
A soldier in a hazmat suit disinfects the now-empty intensive care unit at the Saronno Hospital in Saronno, northern Italy (Picture: EPA)

A second deadly wave of coronavirus could hit Europe next winter, a World Health Organisation (WHO) chief has warned.

Dr Hans Kluge said he is ‘very concerned’ about seasonal flus happening at the same time as a surge in coronavirus infections.

Despite the daily increase of deaths falling across Europe, Dr Kluge said now is the time for ‘preparation, not celebration’.

The WHO’s director for Europe said countries all over the continent can learn from the first wave of infections by increasing hospital capacity and strengthening health care systems.

Yesterday, the UK’s coronavirus death toll rose to 34,636 after another 170 people died, which is the lowest daily increase in deaths since March 24. But the Government’s fears easing the lockdown too soon could see numbers jump again.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

Badly-hit countries like Spain, Italy and France are showing signs of recovery, but Dr Kluge stressed it did not mean the pandemic was coming to an end.

CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA, ITALY - MAY 17: Beach officials measure to set up parasols to keep social distance for visitors in a seaside town beach in the province of Grosseto, Castiglione della Pescaia in South-Western Tuscany, Italy on May 17, 2020.The Italian government approved a decree that allows international travel to and from the country from June 3. People will also be allowed to move freely within the country from the same date. (Photo by Carlo Bressan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Beach officials in Tuscany measure between parasols to keep social distance for visitors (Picture: Carlo Bressan/Anadolu Agency via Getty)
People sit on the grass at the Vincennes woods in Paris on May 17, 2020, on the first weekend after France eased lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images)
People sit on the grass at the Vincennes woods in Paris (Picture: AFP)

He said: ‘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.’

Most scientists are in agreement that coronavirus will re-emerge if a vaccine is not found.  

During the Government’s daily briefing on April 29, deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van Tam warned the virus will ‘absolutely come back’. 

Dr Kluge added: ‘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.’ 

His comments echo those of other experts who have – as a result of seasonality or lifting the lockdown – could be disastrous for the NHS. 

epa08427377 A worker clad in a hazmat suit sprays disinfectant liquid inside the iconic Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, 17 May 2020. The disinfection of buildings and public places has become a common sight across the world as countries attempt to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the pandemic COVID-19 disease. EPA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI
A worker clad in a hazmat suit sprays disinfectant liquid inside the iconic Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City (Picture: EPA)
People wear face masks as they make a selfie at Trocadero square with the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sunday, May 17, 2020 as France gradually lifts its Covid-19 lockdown. Parisians enjoying their first weekend in the sun since travel and movement restrictions were partially lifted. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
People take a selfie in face masks in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Picture: AP)

Professor Robin Shattock, from Imperial College, said a re-appearance of coronavirus in the winter could be disastrous for the NHS.

Advertisement

Advertisement

He told The Times: ‘The real big danger is if we see the kind of number of cases of Covid-19 that we’re seeing now next winter — and we also have a seasonal flu. That could be a double whammy for the health service.’

All around Europe, the pandemic is showing signs of slowing as people begin returning back to a new kind of normal.

Greeks flocked to the seaside when more than 500 beaches reopened and thousands returned to church on Sunday after weeks of staying away as a ban on mass gatherings was eased.

Spain’s daily death toll fell below 100 for the first time in two months, the health ministry said on Sunday, as some parts of the country prepared for a further loosening of lockdown measures.

Temporary unemployment schemes operating across Europe could struggle to save the jobs of leisure and travel sector workers facing drawn-out or partial recoveries from the pandemic, even if they help industries that rebound quickly.

Coronavirus has infected over 4.7 million people and killed more than 315,000 worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, which experts say under counts the true toll of the pandemic.

The US has reported over 89,000 dead and Europe has seen at least 160,000 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death.

Advertisement

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Leave a Reply