Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO, said the rise in hospital admissions in the UK, France, Ireland and other European countries was “worrying”.
He said it was too early to draw any comfort from figures showing fewer deaths compared to new cases, than those seen in the first wave of the pandemic.
I think we need to be really careful right now not to make an assumption about the current disconnect between the rising number of cases and deaths. That could reconnect, very very badly and very catastrophically unless we’re very, very careful.
The World Bank has stepped up its call for a comprehensive programme of debt relief after revealing the amount owed by the poorest countries was at record levels even before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis.
Statistics released by the Washington-based institution showed the external debt of the 73 countries currently eligible to have this year’s repayments suspended stood at $744bn (£568bn) at the end of 2019 – an increase of 9.5% on 2018.
The new figures from the Bank come amid growing concern of an imminent debt crisis among low-income countries struggling to keep up the payments on money borrowed from a mix of public and private creditors over the past decade.
Both the World Bank and its sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund, have warned that poor countries are being forced to cut back on health and education spending to keep up repayments on debts incurred before their economies were hit by a collapse in demand for their exports and drop in remittances.
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WHO: ‘herd immunity is scientifically and ethically problematic’
The WHO has warned that the number of new Covid cases is at its highest level since the start of the pandemic.
Speaking at the regular Monday press conference in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organisation’s director general, said: “Each of the last four days has seen the highest number of cases reported so far.”
He added: “Around the world, we’re now seeing an increase in the number of reported cases of Covid-19 especially in Europe and the Americas.”
Tedros also warned against the idea of herd immunity. He said:
Herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. In other words immunity is achieved by protecting people from the virus, not by exposing them to it. Never has herd immunity been been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It is scientifically and ethically problematic.
In Italy, police have blocked around 60 websites and a number of social media advertising campaigns that were selling fake products to fight Covid-19.
The Carabinieri health protection command said on Monday that the bogus products included illegal medicines, previously banned due to their side-effects. The websites were based outside Italy, the Italian press agency ANSA has reported.
In September, Italian authorities had blocked two websites based in Cameroon that were selling antidepressant drugs disguised as a cure for the coronavirus. The sites were blocked as part of the Tranquil Summer 2020 drive between June and September.