New Covid-19 wave imminent – WHO
Authorities must act now to avoid disruptions and chaos in Europe, an official from the health body has said
The new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has hit Europe, and health authorities must act now to mitigate its fallout, the World Health Organization’s officer in Europe said on Tuesday.
“Waiting for the autumn to act will be too late,” Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement.
“It’s now abundantly clear we’re in a similar situation to last summer – only this time the ongoing Covid-19 wave is being propelled by sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, notably BA.2 and BA.5, with each dominant sub-lineage of Omicron showing clear transmission advantages over the previously circulating viruses,” he pointed out.
Kluge warned that the rise in hospitalizations will likely accelerate in the autumn and winter as schools reopen and tourists return home from holidays. Another factor is that people will spend more time indoors than they do now, the WHO official explained.
Kluge also offered a reminder that over the past six weeks Europe has seen a tripling of new Covid-19 cases. Last week, the continent reported almost three million new cases, accounting for nearly half of all new cases globally.
Although the WHO Regional Director noted that intensive-care-unit admissions have so far remained relatively low, almost 3,000 people die of Covid-19 in Europe every week.
With this in mind and the not-so-rosy prospects at hand, Kluge urged authorities to ramp up efforts to mitigate the fallout from the new wave, taking measures to alleviate the burden on national health care systems. In his telling, the campaign against Covid-19 may be supported by an increased vaccination rate, mask-wearing indoors and on public transport, as well as by ventilating crowded spaces.
“My message to governments and health authorities is to act now to prepare for the coming months… If health authorities act now, they can help reduce the anticipated disruptions to society, including health-worker absences and overburdened health systems, struggling businesses and travel chaos,” Kluge reiterated.