Health

Fighting off future Covid-19 is 'touch and go', top WHO official warns

It is ‘touch and go’ as to whether local Covid-19 outbreaks can be controlled, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official warned today.

Yesterday the UN agency revealed Europe has seen a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases since lockdown easing measures began.  

Dr David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’m pretty confident that most European countries are going to do well.

‘We’ve seen for example in Poland, Germany, Spain, a really effective response to these kinds of resurgences.’ But he admitted: ‘It is touch and go.’

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night warned Britain’s beaches could be closed to prevent another wave of coronavirus.  

Temperatures reached as high as 92.1F (33.4C) yesterday, marking the UK’s hottest day of 2020 so far and triggering a frenzied rush to the seaside.

David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy, today told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I'm pretty confident that most European countries are going to do well'

David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy, today told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’m pretty confident that most European countries are going to do well’

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night warned Britain's beaches could be closed to prevent another wave of coronavirus. Pictured, beachgoers enjoy the sunshine at Bournemouth yesterday

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night warned Britain’s beaches could be closed to prevent another wave of coronavirus. Pictured, beachgoers enjoy the sunshine at Bournemouth yesterday

Coastal beauty spots were plagued with ‘irresponsible’ and ‘selfish’ scenes as Brits flouted strict social distancing rules to enjoy the blazing sunshine.

But the virus is still spreading – figures released yesterday suggested up to 3,200 people in England are still being struck down each day. 

Dr Nabarro said: ‘I really think that Chris Whitty’s (England’s chief medical officer) point that the virus is still in general circulation is important.

‘So let’s hope that we’re able to prevent these small clusters and little outbreaks from becoming overwhelming as we had earlier this year.’

WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge yesterday said: ‘Thirty countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks. 

‘In 11 of these, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe.’

Coastal beauty spots around the country saw drunken fights amid blatant flouting of social distancing rules by crowds of young revellers yesterday.

But Dr Nabarro said he was not ‘really concerned’ by images of crowds on beaches, but feared what was going on ‘out of sight’.

He told the Today programme: ‘I don’t personally get really concerned when I see people outside in the open because transmission is less likely to occur there.

‘But it’s what happens out of sight that I’m more worried about. People going to the toilet and being in a queue and perhaps there being transmission there.

‘Or particularly the person who is cleaning the toilet being exposed to lots of folk with disease, people getting on the public transport and exposing bus drivers and the like.

‘That’s where I get nervous because I actually feel this vast amount of movement that’s going on – that is absolutely essential for people to come out and enjoy themselves again – does come at a risk.

‘And I just ask everybody, don’t just think of yourself. Think of the other person who you might be exposing to the virus because sometimes they don’t have a choice.’

Dr Nabarro also claimed there was ‘a real reluctance among some British people’ to cooperate with contact tracers.

EUROPE HAS SEEN A DRAMATIC SURGE IN COVID-19 CASES AFTER LOCKDOWN, WHO OFFICIAL WARNS

Europe has seen a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases since lockdown easing began, the World Health Organization has warned, amid fears of a second wave.

‘Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months,’ the WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge told reporters.

‘Thirty countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks. In 11 of these countries, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe,’ he warned.

Kluge did not identify the countries by name, nor provide detailed numbers.

Data from the European Union shows a gradual decline in cases from around the start of April and continuing through this week.

However, there are countries which have seen major outbreaks since easing lockdown, including Germany which suffered a major setback this week.

On Tuesday, it reimposed lockdowns on 640,000 people in two districts in the western part of the country after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse infected more than 1,500 workers.

Portugal also imposed new restrictions in and around its capital on Tuesday.

He said: ‘If I was in charge… I would be asking myself why is it proving so hard to find all those who have got the disease and to get to their contacts?

‘It does appear there is still a real reluctance among some British people to be open about their contacts and perhaps they feel it’s an intrusion into their privacy.

‘And I say here and now when you’re trying to get rid of this virus contact tracing is absolutely critical. It’s the only way to do it.  

‘So if you’re in any doubt please do cooperate on this contact-tracing issue because it is key to getting down to the low levels that we need for life to recover and people to go about their lives as they wish to.’

NHS data released yesterday showed fewer than half of coronavirus-infected people have given any details of their close contacts.

Of the 20,968 people assigned to England’s 25,000 contact tracers, only 10,058 have actually given information that the tracers could follow up (48 per cent).  

Leading medics have already warned Britain faces a very ‘real risk’ of being rocked by another wave of Covid-19. 

Britain has the worst officially confirmed death toll in Europe, considerably higher than countries like Italy and Spain which were hit earlier. 

Damning figures show 43,000 Brits have already died after testing positive for the disease in the first wave, which began back in February.

But the real number of victims is thought to be in the region of 55,000, when every suspected death is taken into account.

Infectious disease experts say that because so few Britons have been struck down with Covid-19, the threat of a second wave is high.

Britain is nowhere near having herd immunity to the coronavirus, with government data suggesting 5.4 per cent of people in England have had the illness.

This is equal to around 3.02million people. Sixty per cent coverage is thought to be the amount of the population needed for herd immunity. 

It comes as it was revealed this week that all over-50s in Britain could get the flu jab on the NHS this winter to ease the burden of a second Covid-19 wave.

Ministers are reportedly considering the idea in the hope it will free up hospital beds and buy the health service space to cope with another crisis.

During the peak of Britain’s coronavirus outbreak, around 3,500 people were being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 each day.  

Leading scientists fear the coronavirus could wreak havoc on the health service if it returns this winter, striking alongside the flu when hospitals are already swamped.

Studies and analysis of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed 50million people, have suggested any second wave could be deadlier than the first. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock threatens to CLOSE beaches and re-lockdown local areas after ‘major incident’ in Bournemouth, thousands of Liverpool fans celebrate title win and police come under attack from revellers for second night

Britain’s beaches could be closed to prevent the resurgence of coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned as the heatwave triggered a frenzied rush to the seaside which led to ‘irresponsible and selfish’ scenes.

It came as thousands of Liverpool fans ignored social distancing to fill the streets outside Anfield after the club won the Premier League, as fireworks went off and fans waved flags, singing: ‘We’ve gone and won the league.’

And police came under attack from revellers in London for the second night in a row, as officers tried to disperse crowds at an unlicensed music event in Notting Hill, and also had to shut down a similar gathering in Streatham. 

In Bournemouth, a major incident was declared after 500,000 visitors overwhelmed Dorset, with the authorities forced into an ’emergency response’ after they clogged up roads and dumped tons of litter on beaches. 

Coastal beauty spots around the country saw drunken fights amid blatant flouting of social distancing rules by crowds of young revellers despite the country still being in lockdown to fight the spread of Covid-19. 

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty stressed: ‘If we do not follow social distancing guidance then cases will rise again. Naturally people will want to enjoy the sun but we need to do so in a way that is safe for all.’ 

There was also shocking violence against officers trying to end a party in Brixton on Wednesday night. Police fear widespread drunken disorder on July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ – when pubs and restaurants can reopen. 

Temperatures hit 92.1F (33.4C) at London Heathrow Airport yesterday afternoon, making it Britain’s hottest day of 2020 for the second consecutive day after the mercury got to 90.7F (32.6C) in the same spot on Wednesday. 

But a week of blazing sunshine and scorching heat is coming to end today, with thunderstorms and torrential rain sweeping into the country along with lightning, hail, flooding and up to 2in (50mm) of rain falling in an hour. 

Police break up a fight in Brighton as hundreds flock to the beach yesterday amid soaring temperatures into the 90Fs

Police break up a fight in Brighton as hundreds flock to the beach yesterday amid soaring temperatures into the 90Fs

Rubbish litters the beach after many visitors leave in Bournemouth last night following a major incident being declared

Rubbish litters the beach after many visitors leave in Bournemouth last night following a major incident being declared

Rubbish litters Bournemouth beach last night following the second consecutive hottest day of the year for Britain

Rubbish litters Bournemouth beach last night following the second consecutive hottest day of the year for Britain

Rubbish strewn across Bournemouth beach last night after hundreds of visitors spent the day there yesterday

Rubbish strewn across Bournemouth beach last night after hundreds of visitors spent the day there yesterday

Rubbish left on Bournemouth beach yesterday evening after an estimated 500,000 visitors flocked to the coast in Dorset

Rubbish left on Bournemouth beach yesterday evening after an estimated 500,000 visitors flocked to the coast in Dorset

Rubbish litters Bournemouth beach after huge crowds spent the day there, prompting a major inciednt to be declared

Rubbish litters Bournemouth beach after huge crowds spent the day there, prompting a major inciednt to be declared

A fire engine struggles through the crowds on the promenade in Bournemouth on the Dorset coast yesterday evening

A fire engine struggles through the crowds on the promenade in Bournemouth on the Dorset coast yesterday evening

A major incident was declared after in Bournemouth yesterday after it became overrun by hundreds of thousands of visitors

A major incident was declared after in Bournemouth yesterday after it became overrun by hundreds of thousands of visitors

The Met Office has issued thunderstorm warnings for today

The Met Office has issued thunderstorm warnings for today

In Liverpool, police condemned the thousands of Liverpool fans who filled the streets outside Anfield after the club won the Premier League.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden said Merseyside had been ‘disproportionately affected’ by the coronavirus pandemic and its residents had a responsibility to prevent further cases.

He said: ‘The overwhelming majority of fans have recognised the fact that now is not the time to gather together to celebrate, and chose to mark the event safely. They are a credit to this city.

‘Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the lockdown period, not everyone adhered to the regulations in place. Although the vast majority of celebrations were good natured, a large number of people chose to gather outside the stadium.’

Earlier, about 100 fans gathered outside the Main Stand at Anfield for when the final whistle blew on Thursday’s Chelsea v Manchester City match, securing Liverpool the title with seven games to spare.

Fireworks went off and fans waved flags and sang: ‘We’ve gone and won the league.’

Within an hour of the result, thousands of fans had gathered outside the stadium, lighting red flares and singing football songs. People, with children and dogs, continued to make their way across Stanley Park to get to the stadium.

Many fans were seen hugging and one man stood with his arm around a cardboard cut out of manager Jurgen Klopp. 

Others carried flags and scarves while some fans brought crates of beer. Many fans wore face masks for the gathering and shortly before 11pm, Merseyside Police announced road closures would be put in place.  

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