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WHO's Van Kerkhove: COVID-19 Rise in Europe 'Worrying'

van kerkhove in a black top speaking at a who conference
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove (Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 18 September 2020 01:51 PM

The rise of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Europe, including in the U.K. and France, is "worrying" as the annual flu season approaches, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a top official from the World Health Organization, said Friday. 

"This is really worrying because as we hit the flu season — as we start to see other viruses circulating, respiratory viruses circulating — it’s very difficult to distinguish COVID from flu and from other respiratory pathogens that are circulating,” Van Kerkhove, who heads the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said on CNN's "New Day."

If hospital beds are full of COVID-19 patients, it will be a challenge for the healthcare system to deal with other respiratory diseases, she added. 

Hospitalizations have doubled every eight days in the U.K., where more than 3,300 new cases are being reported every day. In July, the U.K. was seeing a low of 350 new cases daily, according to Johns Hopkins University data. 

“We’re worried that these increasing numbers of hospitalizations and ICU are really going to overburden an already burdened system,” Van Kerkhove said. 

Reuters reported Friday that Britain is considering whether to order another national lockdown. Meanwhile, Van Kerkhove said there are parts of France where intensive care units are full. 

On Thursday alone, France reported more than 10,400 new cases, the highest daily case count the country has reported so far, according to Johns Hopkins. 

Part of the rise in cases being reported is from more widespread testing and better surveillance, but with economies reopening, health officials are reporting growing infections in people ages 15 to 44, said Van Kerkhove.

“Part of that has to do with the way people are socializing, people are going out and about and living their lives and trying to get back to what is this new normal,” said Van Kerkhove. "It can reach those vulnerable people, and those vulnerable people have a higher chance of needing hospitalization and needing intensive care.”

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The rise of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Europe, including in the U.K. and France, is "worrying" as the annual flu season approaches, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a top official from the World Health Organization, said Friday. "This is really worrying because as we hit the flu...
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2020-51-18
Friday, 18 September 2020 01:51 PM
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