WHO warns Europe to prepare for SECOND WAVE of coronavirus this winter

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A top World Health Organisation chief has warned that Europe must not relax as daily figures continue to decrease. Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, said he was “very concerned” a surge in infections would coincide with other seasonal diseases such as the flu.

He said now is the time to strengthen health care systems by increasing bed capacity so that countries are ready to brace more patients.

The WHO boss cautioned that now is the time for “preparation, not celebration” across Europe – even if daily numbers of cases and deaths are dwindling.

Today the UK announced the lowest amount of deaths since the lockdown begun.

However, the Government is wary this could be reversed if the lockdown is eased too quickly.

Spain, Italy and France are all now showing positive signs of recovery after being heavily impacted by the coronavirus.

Nonetheless, Dr Kluge stressed that, dwindling cases in countries such as the UK, France and Italy did not mean the pandemic was coming to an end.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said countries should use this time wisely to learn from the first wave of infection.

He warned countries should start to strengthen public health systems in preparation for a second peak.

This could mean building capacity in hospitals, primary care and intensive care units, he said.

“Singapore and Japan understood early on that this is not a time for celebration, it’s a time for preparation,” Dr Kluge said.

“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.”

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.”

This comes after deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van Tam, warned that the virus will “absolutely come back” at the Government’s daily briefing on April 29.

The comments echo those of other experts who also have warned a re-appearance of the virus in the winter.

This is predicted to be a result of seasonality or the lifting of the lockdown.

A second wave could be disastrous for the NHS.

A second peak which overwhelms the NHS is considered the “biggest threat to life” in the UK according to the Government’s 50-page roadmap to ease lockdown.

A second wave already appears to be emerging in China.

Fears of a second coronavirus wave are growing in China amid warnings from health chiefs that citizens still lack immunity against the potentially fatal disease.

Beijing’s senior medical adviser Zhong Nanshan said the danger of a second wave of infections was looming large.

Mainland China reported five new confirmed COVID-19 cases for May 16, down from eight the previous day, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement.

Mr Zhong said: “The majority of Chinese at the moment are still susceptible to COVID-19 infection because of a lack of immunity.

“We are facing a big challenge, it’s not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment.”

Mr Zhong acknowledged the number of infections were initially under reported in Wuhan but said the government has learned lessons from the SARS epidemic 17 years ago and he thinks all the coronavirus data will have been correct since January 23.

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