Second year of pandemic could even be tougher, says WHO top officials

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  • The world could be facing an even tougher year of pandemic this 2021
  • WHO officials warned this is possible especially in the northern hemisphere countries
  • WHO cited reports of an increase in number of COVID cases after a short holiday break

The world has faced a very challenging year in 2020 as coronavirus spread in almost every country, crippling economies, big and small, and sowing fear among everyone.

But this year, when some already see hope in the horizon as people started to get inoculated with COVID vaccine, could even be more challenging, especially in the northern hemisphere where a new variant has emerged, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) official.

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“We are going into a second year of this, it could even be tougher given the transmission dynamics and some of the issues that we are seeing,” said WHO’s tope emergencies official Mike Ryan during a social media event on Wednesday.

Ryan cited reports of number of COVID cases dropping down for two weeks only to increase again after the holidays as a result of some people becoming careless and negligent in following health protocols.

“Certainly in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America we have seen that sort of perfect storm of the season – coldness, people going inside, increased social mixing and a combination of factors that have driven increased transmission in many, many countries,” Ryan added.

We can do better

Maria Van Kerkhove, technical chief for COVID-19 for WHO, likewise warned that in some countries, the situation will get a lot worse after the Christmas season before it gets better.

Governments in Europe has started imposing more stringent and longer restrictions to contain the spread of the new COVID variant which was first reported in the United Kingdom last December.

The new variant has begun spreading across the continent, including the Philippines, sparking fresh fears of a tighter community lockdown anew.

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The Philippines detected its first case of the UK COVID variant on a Filipino from Quezon City who travelled to Dubai last December 27 and flew back to the country this January 7.

Meanwhile, Van Kerkhove called for physical distancing to be maintained at all times, the farther the better, she said, especially from those outside of one’s household.

Otherwise, the WHO official further warned, ‘we will remain in this pattern of peak and trough and peak and trough,’ adding that ‘we can do better than this’.