A WHO special COVID-19 envoy predicted a third wave of the pandemic in Europe in early 2021 if governments repeat what he said was a failure to do what was needed to prevent the second wave of infections. "They missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months after they brought the first wave under the control," the WHO's David Nabarro said in an interview with Swiss newspapers, as quoted by Reuters. "Now we have the second wave. If they don't build the necessary infrastructure, we'll have a third wave early next year," said Nabarro, a Briton who campaigned unsuccessfully to become the WHO director general in 2017.
Europe accounts for 28% of global COVID-19 cases and 26% of deaths with signs of overwhelmed health systems, according to WHO. Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.
With barely a month to go until the Christmas holidays, many are starting to worry about the social and economic impacts that locking down through the feast might carry. German case counts maintained their high levels but did not break any records in the last 24 hours, according to data from the country's center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute, which counted 22,964 new infections in the last 24 hours. The partial lockdown Germany has been under since early November is working, Health Minister Jens Spahn told Die Welt newspaper on Saturday but added more needs to be done, according to Deutsche Press-Agentur (dpa). "The exponential growth has been blocked. But we are all in agreement that that is not enough." He added that, given the high percentage of elderly residents in Germany, it is important to stop the virus' spread before it results in too many intensive care cases.
COVID-19 has infected more than 55 million people worldwide, causing nearly 1.3 million deaths. The U.S. leads the world in the number of coronavirus deaths, with more than 255,000 recorded fatalities, and became the first country to pass the grim milestone of a quarter-million deaths.
With cases surpassing 12 million in the United States, the highest in the world, many Americans were nonetheless heading to airports to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday despite health officials' warnings to stay home. Daily numbers of new U.S. cases are approaching 200,000, less than three weeks after hitting 100,000 for the first time. Reuters data shows the pace of new U.S. infections has quickened, with nearly 1 million more cases recorded in just the last six days before the latest record. This compares with the eight days it took to get from 10 million cases to 11 million, and the 10 days it took to get from 9 million to 10 million.
More than 1 million people flew through U.S. airports on Friday, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), fueling fears of an even greater spread of the virus. It was the second-heaviest domestic air traffic day since the start of the pandemic, despite pleas from health officials for Americans to stay home. "This is the 2nd time since the pandemic passenger volume has surpassed 1 million," TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter on Saturday, Reuters reported. Health officials have warned that the burgeoning wave of infections could soon overwhelm the health care system if people do not follow public health guidance, particularly around not traveling and mingling with other households for Thursday's traditional Thanksgiving celebration.
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