A top World Health Organization official has warned that a second wave of the coronavirus is imminent in winter.
Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, Dr. Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, has expressed concerns that the new wave might coincide with the flu season. That’s why he believes European nations should use the time left to strengthen their healthcare systems. A crucial factor is increasing hospital bed capacity to be ready for the next surge in COVID-19 infections.
Dr. Kluge said it’s time for “preparation, not celebration.” The daily number of cases across Western Europe are decreasing, but the epicenter has shifted to the East. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are reporting growing daily numbers.
Dr. Kluge says Europe should look to countries like Singapore and Japan, which are using the respite to build up their healthcare.
“That’s what Scandinavian countries are doing—they don’t exclude a second wave, but they hope it will be localized and they can jump on it quickly.”
A second wave of the pandemic has been forecast by many health officials. The consensus is that it’s all but inevitable.
“This virus may just become another endemic virus in our communities. This virus may never go away.”Dr. Mike Ryan, World Health Organization
Other viruses like HIV haven’t gone away either. Instead, we have developed drugs to mitigate its effects and learned to live with it. Only several deadly viruses, such as smallpox, have ever been eradicated.
Dr Kluge echoes these sentiments:
“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.”
Meanwhile, many countries are already easing the restrictions instituted earlier this spring. Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Austria, and even hard-hit Italy are allowing small businesses to open. Travel restrictions are also being lifted.
The world may slowly be returning back to normal, but the pandemic is far from over.