WHO COVID envoy fears third wave, calls Europe response 'incomplete'

He also said Europe had much to learn from Asian countries. "One has to react quickly to the virus, robustly and decisively," he said. "Especially at the start, when the virus is still spreading very slowly in different communities. If you react half-heartedly, the problem will get bigger very quickly."

 

ZURICH:

A World Health Organization (WHO) special COVID-19 envoy predicted a third wave of the pandemic in Europe in early 2021, if governments repeat what he said was a failure to do what was needed to prevent the second wave of infections.

"They missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months after they brought the first wave under the control," Nabarro said. "Now we have the second wave. If they don't build the necessary infrastructure, we'll have a third wave early next year."

“Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year,” said Nabarro, a Briton who campaigned unsuccessfully to become the WHO director general in 2017.Europe briefly enjoyed sinking infection rates that are now surging again: Germany and France on Saturday saw cases rise by 33,000 combined, Switzerland and Austria have thousands of cases daily, while Turkey reported a record 5,532 new infections.

He also said Europe had much to learn from Asian countries. "One has to react quickly to the virus, robustly and decisively," he said. "Especially at the start, when the virus is still spreading very slowly in different communities. If you react half-heartedly, the problem will get bigger very quickly."

Nabarro singled out Switzerland’s move to allow skiing - with masks required in gondolas - as other Alpine nations like Austria have shuttered resorts. Nabarro said Switzerland could reach a “very high level of sicknesses and deaths”.

“Once the infection rates sink, and they will sink, then we can be as free as we want,” Nabarro was quoted as saying by the Solothurner Zeitung. “But right now? Should ski resorts open? Under what conditions?”

Nabarro lauded the response of Asian countries like South Korea, where infections are now relatively low: “People are fully engaged, they take on behaviours that make it difficult for the virus. They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they’re sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups.”

Europe briefly enjoyed sinking infection rates during the summer, but they are now surging again. Germany, with a population of 84 million, saw cases rise by 14,000 on Sunday. 

By contrast, Japan's population of 120 million saw only 2,596 new cases on Saturday. South Korea's population of 51 million reported only 386 new cases on the same day and has had only around 30,700 confirmed cases in total since the pandemic began.

A major problem, Nabarro added, was that too few political decision-makers understood that the virus was spreading exponentially rather arithmetically. "Exponential means, the numbers could rise 8 times in a week, 40 times in two weeks, 300 times in three weeks, over 1,000 times in four weeks, and so on," he said.

 

 


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