Europe

WHO boss warns ‘we should prepare’ as he forecasts new coronavirus spike for October

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WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge admitted he “wouldn’t be surprised” should coronavirus cases spike towards the winter as he insisted a new lockdown is not a good option. Mr Kluge said the reopening of schools scheduled for the coming weeks across the continent as well as the arrival of the flu season are likely to play a significant role in sparking new infections. Speaking to BBC Today, the public health official said: “We’re entering three phenomena.

“One is the reopening of the schools and the academic year, the second is the flu season and the third is excess mortality in the elder population during the winter.

“So I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in October, especially into late November.

“There is no reason for panic but we have to be aware.”

Dr Kluge continued: “It’s far too early to draw all the conclusions for the time being but we know what needs to be done. 

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“We’re not back in February, where the fourth option was lockdown and rebooting.

“Now we should target the virus and not target the schooling, the economy and society.”

The WHO official also reiterated the organisation’s advice on the use of face coverings and masks in schools, saying their use should be limited to situations where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed.

He insisted masks are only a “minor” part of a wider strategy parents, teachers and pupils should follow which include regular hand washing, sanitisation and social distancing. 

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The warning comes as the Department of Health confirmed on Monday 1,715 new COVID-19 infections had been recorded in the span of 24 hours, a significant increase from Sunday’s 1,108 cases.

The UK has diagnosed 334,467 since the start of the outbreak, with 41,499 deaths.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government have been trying to clamp down on a resurgence of cases, imposing localised lockdown as well as mandatory quarantine on holiday makers returning from at-risk countries.

Over the weekend, a whole TUI flight from Zante was forced to self-isolate after public health officials confirmed seven cases of coronavirus had been confirmed among passengers.

Public Health Wales said the flight had landed in Cardiff on August 25, confirming all passengers would have to quarantine for 14-days at home.

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