On Monday, the World Health Organization warned that countries that are seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases may still face an “immediate second peak” if they stop taking measures to contain the outbreak seriously.
WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan while speaking at an online briefing said that the world was still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus infections. He noted that while the cases of the deadly disease are declining in many countries they are still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.
According to Ryan, epidemics often come in waves, which means that the highly infectious virus could come back again in places where the first wave of the outbreak seems to be over. There was also a chance that infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.
“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.”
The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has so far infected more than 5 million people globally. It has caused immeasurable devastation to both human life and the economy.