WHO envoy fears Covid third wave | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:54 AM, November 23, 2020

WHO envoy fears Covid third wave

Calls Europe’s response ‘incomplete’, lauds Asia

A World Health Organization (WHO) special Covid-19 envoy has 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," the WHO's David Nabarro said in an interview with Swiss newspapers.

"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.

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,381,915 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 11:00 GMT yesterday.

At least 58,165,460 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 37,053,500 are now considered recovered.

On Saturday, 9,021 new deaths and 580,396 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were United States with 1,503 new deaths, followed by Italy with 692 and Mexico with 550.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 255,905 deaths from 12,090,469 cases. After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 168,989 deaths from 6,052,786 cases, India with 133,227 deaths from 9,095,806 cases, Mexico with 101,373 deaths from 1,032,688 cases, and the United Kingdom with 54,626 deaths from 1,493,383 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 134 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Peru with 108, Spain 91, Argentina 82.

China -- excluding Hong Kong and Macau -- has to date declared 86,431 cases, including 4,634 deaths and 81,481 recoveries.

Latin America and the Caribbean overall has 433,865 deaths from 12,431,882 cases, Europe 369,144 deaths from 16,253,491 infections, and the United States and Canada 267,302 deaths from 12,414,386 cases.

Asia has reported 187,681 deaths from 11,869,395 cases, the Middle East 73,549 deaths from 3,106,525 cases, Africa 49,433 deaths from 2,059,651 cases, and Oceania 941 deaths from 30,131 cases.

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."

Nabarro also said Asia did not relax restrictions prematurely.

"You must wait until case numbers are low and stay low," he said. "Europe's reaction was incomplete."

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