The emergencies chief for the World Health Organization said that COVID-19 doesn’t seem to follow the seasonal patterns that some viruses exhibit, making it harder to control.
Unlike other respiratory viruses like influenza that spread mainly in the winter, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in the summer. That’s despite earlier predictions from some scientists and politicians it would fade in the heat.
“This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such,” said Dr Michael Ryan at a press briefing on Monday. “What it has clearly demonstrated is that if you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back,” he said.
Ryan said the U.N. Health agency continues to advise countries even where COVID-19 appears to be under control, such as those in Europe, to maintain measures to slow virus spread.
He called for countries where transmission remains intense, such as Brazil, to adopt measures so that communities have the necessary support they need to implement strategies like social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolating if they have symptoms.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization predicted that the number of people infected by the coronavirus will hit 20 million this week, including about 750,000 deaths.
In a briefing on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that “behind these statistics there is a great deal of pain and suffering” but said there were still “green shoots of hope” no matter what stage in an outbreak a country or region might be.
He offered no new strategies to combat the virus but said again that “leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures,” pointing to New Zealand as an example for the world. The country recently marked 100 days with no local spread of the virus. Tedros said that recently adopted measures in countries including Britain and France, which have imposed targeted lockdowns and mask-wearing strategies in the last week, were a good example of specific strategies needed to curb a new upsurge in cases.