The World Health Organization (WHO) sounds an alert in view of the increase in the number of cases of covid-19, at a time when several European countries are registering new waves of contamination. Earlier in the week, the world recorded a record number of new cases registered in 24 hours.
Speaking on Wednesday in Geneva, the entity’s two main leaders in responding to the pandemic called for governments to step up their actions, as well as insisting on the need for society to rethink its priorities. Otherwise, the world will return to the situation of April, when hospitals filled up, the death toll soared and schools were closed.
“There is a worrying trend, with an increase in cases in some countries,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director. According to her, in some cases, the leaps resemble the first weeks of the pandemic.
The expert admits that part of the increase occurs due to the greater ability to perform tests. “But what is really worrying is that we see not only an increase in cases, but in hospitalizations and the use of ICUs,” he said. She cites the alarming situation in France, Spain and the US regions.
In the case of South America, the agency points out that the region continues to be “severely affected”, even with figures that begin to show a fall. “But the levels are still very high,” he said.
WHO’s main concern is that the world is seeing a jump in cases, months before winter in the northern hemisphere. “We are still in September and we haven’t even started the season yet. the flu“, said.
If there is no brake, the agency fears a return to overburdened health systems.
Mike Ryan, chief of operations, nodded in the same direction. “The risk is back where we were (in March and April) and nobody wants that,” he said. “If the wave continues to grow, our ability to test becomes more difficult until it reaches the point of being impossible,” he said. “It is not good what we are seeing,” he admitted.
“The biggest fear is that if cases increase in hospitals, we may have the March and April crisis again,” said Ryan. For him, however, none of this needs to happen again.
For WHO, the world is better prepared and knows the virus better. “We have a chance to succeed or to fail. It is in our hands,” he said. “Deaths in the homes of the elderly and the closing of schools do not need to recur,” he said.
According to the organization, in fact there is a drop in mortality, given the greater knowledge about the disease, greater care for the elderly.
But one of the aspects that Ryan warned about is that the degree of lethality of the virus remains important. On average, one person in 200 dies. “Think of it in comparison to your chance to win the lottery,” he said. “It shows how dangerous he is,” insisted the Irishman. “We still lose 5,000 people a day, and counting only those we know have been contaminated,” he said.
For WHO, people still need to assess the fact that science does not know the medium and long term impact of the disease.
The agency’s appeal is also for society to assess its risks and for people to make “sacrifices” by avoiding crowds, parties. “We are all tired. It looks like we have been in this for 40 years.” If we limit our activities, the risk drops for everyone, “said Ryan.
In the WHO assessment, governments today have the chance to limit the proliferation of the disease with more focused measures, rather than with general population confinement. “The answer needs to be local,” said Maria.
But it highlights a change in the demographics of those infected in the new wave of cases, with a greater number of young people. “We see cases of hospitalization between 15 and 44 years old, and this is incredibly worrying,” he said.