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Home Lao Chinese Partners

Europe may face second wave of Covid-19 infections as winter nears

SINGAPORE (The Strait Times/ANN)--A second wave of virus infection could be breaking over Europe and the situation could turn grim in the coming months, as the northern hemisphere approaches the winter months.
For instance, in Britain, more than 3,000 new cases were reported in 24 hours for the second day in a row last Saturday. France also chalked up 10,000 new infections on Saturday, close to the peak of its first wave in April.
Other countries facing a resurgence include Spain, which became the first Western European nation to record more than 500,000 cases since the start of the outbreak.

Workers attending to a motorist at a Covid-19 testing centre in London on Sept 12, 2020.

Experts in Singapore cautioned that this could be a worrying uptrend.
Professor Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, said that though it is unclear if the increased numbers are due to more testing or more cases, it is likely the number of cases will go up with the colder months.
Respiratory viruses thrive in the winter as, among other reasons, people are more likely to gather in crowded indoor environments, facilitating transmission, Prof Tambyah told The Straits Times.
Associate Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said seasonal influenza is often more prevalent in the winter months, and if Covid-19 and the flu co-circulate, it would place additional stress on already burdened healthcare systems.
However, Prof Cook remained cautiously optimistic that the measures used to prevent Covid-19 would also protect against other respiratory viruses.
“Evidence is also emerging from the southern hemisphere - which has already experienced their first winter of influenza and Covid-19 simultaneously - that their influenza epidemics this winter were much smaller than usual because of the Covid-19 safety measures. So, if safe distancing can be kept up, it might prevent this double epidemic.”
Influenza vaccination coverage rates might also increase as people are more aware of the need to protect themselves, Prof Cook said. “It’s really important for those at higher risk of flu to get a vaccine shot this year, especially elders.”
Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the NUS’ Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said, however, that with the symptoms of Covid-19 and influenza being similar, people may be confused as to whether they have the flu or Covid-19.
The usual processes of contact tracing and quarantine might be confounded if people think they simply have the flu and do not come forward early enough, when they in fact have Covid-19, Prof Teo said. “This behaviour can certainly and unwittingly seed additional community clusters.”


 


(Latest Update September 16, 2020)


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