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Expect surges in Covid-19 cases every three months, resulting in ‘explosive outbreaks’ – WHO


Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy with the World Health Organisation.

Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy with the World Health Organisation.

Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy with the World Health Organisation.

There will be surges in cases of Covid-19 every three months, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO's special envoy on Covid-19 Dr David Nabarro said he believes the virus will continue to cause “societal damage for months, perhaps years” to come.

Speaking at a briefing on Covid-19 with 4SD, a social enterprise on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Dr Nabarro said the virus will manifest itself through surges at “three-to-four-month intervals”.

“We’re still as a world in the midst of a pandemic due to an extremely dangerous virus about which an awful lot is still unknown and which is going to, I believe, to continue to cause societal and economic damage for months, perhaps years, to come,” he said.

Dr Nabarro said Covid-19 is not a “trivial virus” and that the challenge of fading immunity is “so big”.

“My general message to everybody is that this pandemic is global, the virus is demonstrating its capacity to surge with increased numbers of cases and in some cases resulting in quite explosive outbreaks around three-to-four-month intervals and right now surges are occurring in China and in the Indian subcontinent,” he said.

“My conviction that this is a dangerous virus comes from the consistent work that’s been done to demonstrate that persons who have had Covid are at high risk of long-term illness and disability and that there’s also in people that have had Covid, a risk of an increased incidence of cardiovascular events.”

Dr Nabarro said society needs to prepare for these surges in infections in order to be “Covid ready”.

“If we accept that the way this virus is going to manifest itself is through surges at intervals, three to four monthly intervals, then what we need to do is prepare for those surges, whole of society preparedness,” he said.

“Bearing in mind that because it’s primarily droplet born, the surges will be localised and that means that you need to have the capacity to pick up a surge that’s coming and to report it rapidly.

“And this preparing for surge might be the most important part of what I call being Covid ready.”

Dr Nabarro said is it vital to prevent transmission especially when levels of the virus are high. He said protecting those who are at high risk involves “changes to the behaviour of the wider population.”

“Apply public health and safety measures, wear masks well fitting, practice physical distancing, ventilate and do good hygiene,” he said.

“There’s no excuse for people to drop these precautions where you’re running with high infection rates all of them reduce risk.”

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