The World Health Organization has warned there could be a ‘second peak’ of infections in America and Europe where coronavirus is declining if lockdown restrictions are relaxed too soon.
Dr Mike Ryan, the head of emergencies at the WHO, issued the grave warning in an online briefing Monday saying that while cases are declining in many countries, these nations could still face an ‘immediate second peak’ if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak.
Ryan also warned that several countries in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa are continuing to record spikes in cases.
This came the same day that the WHO announced it is suspending its trial of hydoxychloroquine in coronavirus patients amid safety concerns over the anti-malaria drug.
The world is still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, Ryan said Monday.
He explained that epidemics often come in waves, which means outbreaks could come back later this year in places where the first wave has subsided.
There is also a risk that infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon, he warned.
‘When we speak about a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months’ time,’ Ryan said.
‘But we need also to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.’
He said countries in Europe and North America should ‘continue to put in place the public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and we don’t have an immediate second peak.’
Many European countries and US states have taken steps in recent weeks to lift lockdown measures that curbed the spread of the disease but caused severe harm to economies.
The WHO official’s stark warning of a renewed ‘peak’ came the same day the health agency suspended its clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients after a study revealed higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients who took the drug.
Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Donald Trump and he even revealed he took the medication for two weeks as a prophylactic.
Geneva, (Daily Mail),
26 May 2020