WHO warns of second wave of COVID-19 as global cases near 5.5 million

(VOA) – Countries where coronavirus infections are declining could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

According to WHO emergencies head Mike Ryan, ”when we speak about a second wave classically what we often means is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. But we need to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time.”

Ryan said epidemics often come in waves, which means that outbreaks could come back later this year in places where the first wave has subsided. 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,” he added.

He added that countries should not assume that “just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down,” and said that the US and European countries should continue to implement tracking and testing measures.

In addition to the threat of a second wave hitting countries that have loosened lockdowns, some countries have not yet had a first peak.

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 number of Covid-19 cases worldwide was nearing the 5.5 million mark on Tuesday, while the deaths have increased to more than 346,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.