WHO Warns Europe to Brace for Growing Coronavirus Death Toll
The World Health Organization has warned Europe that the continent is likely going to experience an increasing number of deaths from COVID-19.
The WHO warning came after on Monday the UN health body recorded the highest daily number ever of new infections: almost 308,000 officially registered cases.
Since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic in China at the end of 2019, the total number of infections worldwide has now topped 29 million.
The global death toll has surpassed 925,000 as per official data, whereas the actual number might be substantially higher due to doubts that many countries might be underreporting their coronavirus fatalities for various reasons.
“It’s going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality,” Hans Kluge, the Director of WHO Europe, told AFP in an interview.
On Monday, the 55 member states of the World Health Organization in Europe began a two-day online meeting to tackle their virus response.
Kluge urged the public not to put all their hopes for ending the coronavirus crisis on a single drug.
“I hear the whole time: ‘the vaccine is going to be the end of the pandemic’. Of course not,” he said. The end of the pandemic would come when communities learn to live with the disease, he stressed.
His comments came just as British regulators allowed clinical trials to resume on one of the most advanced experimental vaccines.
Researchers on the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford University project, who hope to finish tests by the end of the year, had “voluntarily paused” the trial after a UK volunteer developed an unexplained illness.
“We are by no means out of the woods,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the WHO Europe meeting by video-link.
As of Monday, England has limited social gatherings to no more than six people, whereas in France, the cities of Marseille and Bordeaux announced a series of measures to limit public gatherings over growing COVID-19 infection numbers.
The latest surge across Europe has triggered anew heated debates on how to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It has come against the backdrop of millions of schoolchildren in returning to their classrooms for the first time in months.
Italian children were among the first in Europe to see their schools closed, and some 5.6 million returned to school for the first time in six months on Monday.
Anti-virus measures included the setting up of thousands of extra classrooms.
Some regions in Southern Italy postponed the start of the new school year over worries of improper preparations.
Concerns remain over a lack of surgical masks for teachers and a shortage of single-seat benches.
A Vatican spokesman meanwhile said Pope Francis was being “constantly monitored” after having met with a cardinal who later tested positive.
Israel, which is experiencing a new spike in COVID-19 infection rates, has announced a three-week lockdown as of Friday, when people will not be allowed more than 500 meters from their homes.
Elsewhere in the world, however, some countries are doing away with some anti-virus measures.
Saudi Arabia announced it would partially lift a six-month suspension of international flights this week while South Korea said it would ease rules in and around the capital Seoul after cases declined.
(Banner image: Hans Kluge on Twitter)