SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

Europe will see rise in Covid-19 deaths in coming months, WHO warns

The World Health Organization expects Europe to see a rise in the daily number of Covid-19 deaths in October and November, the head of the body's European branch told AFP.

Europe will see rise in Covid-19 deaths in coming months, WHO warns
Illustration photo: AFP
Cases in Europe have risen sharply in recent weeks, especially in Spain and France. More than 51,000 new cases were reported on Friday alone in the 55 countries monitored by WHO Europe, which is more than the highest peak in
April, according to the organisation.
   
“It's going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said.
   
Even though the continent is experiencing a surge of cases, the number of deaths has remained relatively stable. But the resurgence is expected to lead to an increase in daily fatalities, the WHO said.
 
   
“It's a moment where countries don't want to hear this bad news, and I understand,” Kluge told AFP in an interview, stressing that he wanted to send the “positive message” that the pandemic “is going to finish, at one moment or another.”
   
The WHO Europe's over 50 member states are holding an online meeting on Monday and Tuesday to discuss their response to the new coronavirus and agree on their overall five-year strategy.
 
 
 
WHO Europe Regional Director Hans Kluge. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
   
However Kluge, based in Copenhagen, issued a warning to those who believe that the development of a vaccine will end the pandemic.
 
“I hear the whole time: 'the vaccine is going to be the end of the pandemic'. Of course not!,” the Belgian said.
 
“We don't even know if the vaccine is going to help all population groups. We are getting some signs now that it will help for one group and not for the other,” he said. “And then if we have to order different vaccines, what a logistical nightmare!”
   
“The end of the pandemic is the moment that we as a community are going to learn how to live with this pandemic. And it depends on us and that's a very positive message,” he said.
 
 
Incomplete picture
 
Kluge warned of approaches becoming overly politicised and said it was important that the response be based “on epidemiological and public health data.”
   
He also defended authorities that have been hesitant to impose and ease measures in recent months as they are faced with a new disease.   
 
“WHO has been blamed a number of times but communicating on something you don't really know is very very difficult,” Kluge said. “For some you do too little for some you go too far,” he said.
   
According to Kluge, as research progresses, knowledge of the virus remains imperfect, meaning that decisions must be made with an incomplete picture.   
 
“In a number of countries we see that the politics overwrite the scientists and also in a number of other countries we see that people are doubting the science, that's very dangerous,” Kluge said.
   
In countries covered by WHO Europe, the number of daily deaths has remained at around the same level since early June, with around 400-500 deaths per day linked to Covid-19, agency data showed.
   
Despite the worrying trend, the responses now should not be the same as those adopted in the winter and early spring.
   
“In February we were targeting society… now we are targeting the virus,” Kluge said, adding that measures could now be imposed on a more local level.   
 
“If we have a good surveillance system we should be able to control it locally and then in a couple of weeks, relax again,” Kluge said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Spanish health experts have advised the government that the use of masks should no longer be obligatory on public transport, but no concrete date has yet been set.

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Health experts who advise the Spanish Ministry of Health have said that masks should no longer be mandatory on public transport, but with the caveat that the government should first wait and observe the epidemiological situation in China, which has experienced a surge in case numbers since it abandoned its strict ‘Zero Covid’ strategy at the end of 2022, following widespread civil unrest.

The use of masks on public transport has now been the norm in Spain for almost three years, since the start of the pandemic. 

Speaking to Ser Canarias, Darias said: “We are getting closer and closer [to the end of having to wear a mask], but we will have to see how things evolve in order to make that decision; obviously the epidemiological situation is getting better and better, but we have to see how the issue of China evolves”. 

Reports in the Spanish press suggest some kind of agreement was made during a meeting between the government and the experts in December that masks would no longer be compulsory after assessing the situation in China, however, there is still no fixed date.

Back in October 2022, Spain’s ‘Emergency Unit’ suggested that mask rules would not be reviewed until March 2023 at the earliest, but more recently it said that it does not seem necessary to wait for March to remove the mask rule. 

According to recent Ministry of Health figures, just 2.79 percent of hospital beds in Spain are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

READ ALSO: Face masks to remain mandatory on public transport in Spain until March 2023

The use of masks indoors in Spain ceased to be mandatory on April 20th, 2022, after almost two years, however, they have remained mandatory in hospitals, pharmacies and, crucially, also on buses, metro, trains, planes and taxis.

While the mask rules have been strictly enforced in some places in Spain such as Seville and Valencia, in other cities such as Barcelona, many people refuse to wear them, despite the regulations still officially being in place. 

READ ALSO: Spain now requires Covid certificates for arrivals from China

In China, figures suggest that almost 60,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in a single month amid the spike in cases following the end of the country’s draconian restrictions. In response, Spain reintroduced health control checks for travellers arriving from China. 

It seems that Darias and the Spanish government are waiting to see how the situation plays out in China first, but all the indications and expert advice seems to suggest that masks will no longer be mandatory in public transport sometime very soon. 

SHOW COMMENTS