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