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COVID-19 ICU cases on way back up amid travel, tourism warnings


The World Health Organisation has warned that COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, is spreading at a worrying pace in some parts of the northern hemisphere a few months away from the winter influenza season.

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“We are starting to see worrying trends in some countries,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19, said during a social media webcast.

“We are seeing increases in hospitalisations, in intensive care units, particularly in Spain, France, Montenegro, Ukraine and some states of the United States. That is worrying because we have not seen the flu season yet.”

Van Kerkhove also said hospitalisations of people aged 15-49 infected with COVID-19 were increasing in several countries.

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, advised people at high risk for COVID-19 infections to get a flu vaccination.

The WHO on Wednesday also urged governments in Latin America to be cautious.

WHO regional director Carissa Etienne said countries in the region were starting to resume normal social and public life at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic still required major control interventions.

Coronavirus cases in Colombia’s border area with Venezuela have increased ten-fold in the last two weeks, Etienne said in a virtual briefing from the US with other Pan American Health Organisation directors.

Death rates are climbing in parts of Mexico and similar trends are seen in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia, with similar patterns also emerging in areas of Argentina, she said.

“Although the entire world is racing to develop new tools to prevent and cure COVID-19, a safe and effective vaccine that can be manufactured and delivered at scale is not around the corner,” Etienne warned.

“We must be clear that opening up too early gives this virus more room to spread and puts our populations at greater risk. Look no further than Europe,” she said.

Etienne said governments must monitor travel very carefully because reopening to tourism can lead to setbacks.

That has happened in the Caribbean, where several countries that had virtually no cases have experienced spikes as tourism resumed.

According to a Reuters tally, Latin America has recorded about 8.4 million coronavirus cases and more than 314,000 deaths, both figures being the highest of any region.

Globally, more than 29.65 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus and 934,885​ have died.


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