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18 May, 2020 07:33

‘Nothing has changed’: WHO chief for Europe warns of SECOND wave of Covid-19 this winter as countries ease lockdown

‘Nothing has changed’: WHO chief for Europe warns of SECOND wave of Covid-19 this winter as countries ease lockdown

The WHO’s top official in Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, has voiced his concerns that a second wave of coronavirus may be inevitable this winter, possibly exacerbated by seasonal flu or a potential measles outbreak.

In the absence of a vaccine, countries that have not been hit as hard as the UK, Italy or Spain should carefully calculate the risks of easing their lockdowns and scrapping social distancing measures, Kluge, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for Europe, told the Telegraph in an exclusive interview.

We know from history that in pandemics, the countries that have not been hit early on can be hit in a second wave… What are we going to see in Africa and Eastern Europe?

Introduced in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the lockdowns delivered a massive blow to economies and left millions of people without jobs. Amid concerns that the cure is getting worse than the disease, countries are now rushing to ease the restrictions at the first signs of a stable downward trend. 

Italy, for instance, finally allowed shops to resume operations on Monday, following more than two months of statewide quarantine and nearly 32,000 deaths. Gyms, swimming pools, and sports centers are set to reopen next week, while on June 3 it will even open its borders to European tourists – a plan that has already been slammed by neighboring France as premature.

People think lockdown is finished. Nothing has changed. The full disease control package has to be in place.

Kluge fears that if authorities drop the ball and fail to properly prepare their healthcare systems, there could be “a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles” in the winter.

Also on rt.com ‘Contradicting the idea of solidarity’: France slams Italy for unilateral plan to reopen borders to tourists

The possibly of a second wave of the novel coronavirus has been the primary concern among health officials as nations contemplate easing their quarantine rules.

Last week, WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan warned that the virus could become endemic and “may never go away,” just like HIV has not disappeared from the globe after emerging in the 1980s.

Echoing the WHO’s concerns, European Commission spokesperson Stefan de Keersmaecker urged EU member states to “prepare for eventual second waves of infections” by propping up contact-tracing systems.

Many are counting on the development of a vaccine, however, which may take several years to produce – if efforts are successful at all.

Also on rt.com Coronavirus to burn out ‘naturally’ BEFORE vaccine? Former top WHO oncologist Karol Sikora says there’s ‘REAL CHANCE’ of that

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, recently warned that there is “no guarantee” that a vaccine will actually be effective against the disease.

However, there is also a possibility that the virus will be “petering out by itself” before the world comes up with any vaccine, a leading academic and former top WHO oncologist has said. Karol Sikora argued that there is “a real chance” of this occurring, but cautioned that it is far from a certain scenario.

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