Europe could be risking yet another dangerous wave of COVID-19 in early 2021 if recent mistakes are repeated ahead of the holidays, a special World Health Organisation envoy has warned.
“[Governments] missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months, after they brought the first wave under control,” the WHO’s David Nabarro told Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung on Sunday.
“Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year.”
“Once you have brought down the case numbers, you don’t relax the measures,” Nabarro went on. “You wait until the case numbers are low and stay low. You have to prepare the necessary measures to stop future outbreaks.”
Labelling the continent’s response as “incomplete”, health officials have pointed at some European’s countries’ hasty exit strategy as the crux of the issue.
“If you look back, you can see that a lot of things were done in the right direction in the first wave, but obviously the exit strategies were partly too fast, and measures were relaxed too soon,” European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said last month at an online news conference with her special adviser, Belgian virologist Peter Piot.
Meanwhile, Nabarro praised the crisis response on other countries, particularly Asian countries like South Korea.
“People are fully engaged, they take on behaviours that make it difficult for the virus,” the WHO official said of South Korea. With a population of just over 51 million, the country is currently reporting very few infections compared to other countries, with 349 cases announced nationwide in the last 24 hours. “They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they’re sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups.”
Back in Malta, the island is still confirming an average of over 100 new virus cases every day, with five deaths being just announced today and another four announced yesterday.
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