Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, said he was ‘very concerned’ a surge in infections would coincide with other seasonal diseases such as the flu.
He said now is the time to strengthen health care systems by increasing bed capacity so that countries are ready to brace more patients.
He also cautioned that now is the time for ‘preparation, not celebration’ across Europe – even if daily numbers of cases and deaths are dwindling.
Today the UK announced 170 deaths – the lowest since the lockdown was put in place – but the Government is wary this could be reversed if the lockdown is eased too quickly.
Spain, Italy and France, all of which have been severely impacted by the deadly virus, are now showing positive signs of recovery.
Dr Kluge stressed that, as the number of cases of COVID-19 in countries such as the UK, France and Italy was beginning to fall, it did not mean the pandemic was coming to an end.
Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, he said countries should use this time wisely to learn from the first wave of infection and start to strengthen public health systems.
This could mean building capacity in hospitals, primary care and intensive care units, he said.
‘Singapore and Japan understood early on that this is not a time for celebration, it’s a time for preparation,’ Dr Kluge said.