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The World Health Organization is warning that during the autumn of the northern hemisphere, Europe will face a rising death toll from Covid-19. The warning comes as the number of daily infections from around the world hit a record high. On 11 September, the WHO reported 310,692 new cases worldwide, with the weekly trend beginning to spike again after levelling off in the past month. But the trend in daily deaths continues to decline as treatments for severe cases of Covid-19 continue to improve.
India, the US, Brazil, Argentina and France took the lead yesterday as the countries adding the world's newest cases. At this phase of the Covid-19 response, the Americas, the Asian subcontinent and Europe remain the major concerns regionally. (Figures dated 14 September, worldometers.info)
Director of WHO Europe Hans Kluge, speaking to AFP, says the situation ... "will get tougher. We are going to see more mortality in October, November. "Europe's 55 members met with the WHO yesterday and today, focusing on their response to the virus as the global death toll crossed 932,000 and expected to reach one million deaths within the next 10 days.
The situation was punctuated by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"We are not out of the woods by any means."
The Covid-19 hangover continues around the world as some countries attempt to reopen their borders and restart their battered economies, others re-open and then re-apply restrictions as cases arise, and others just keep their borders sealed for the time being. The UN World Tourism Organization reports that in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, 53 per cent of the world's tourist destinations have now begun to ease the government's travel restrictions.
• 79 per cent of tourism destinations in advanced economies have already started to ease restrictions. Less than half, just 47 per cent of destinations, have begun the process in emerging economies.
• 64% of those "high or medium dependence" destinations on airlines to deliver international tourists to their location. At this time island destinations are particularly at risk as the air lift is critical to their tourist success.
• 43 per cent of all destinations worldwide continue to have their borders completely closed to all tourism, 27 of which have had their borders "completely closed" for at least seven months.
• Fifty per cent of the survey's destinations, with borders completely closed to tourism, are listed as "the most vulnerable countries in the world." They include 10 developing the Small Island States, 1 Least Developed Country and 3 Developing Countries Locked by the Land.
As Covid-19 infections soar in the country with the second wave of infections more pronounced than the first European wave in March and April this year, the cities of Marseille and Bordeaux in France have announced a series of new restrictions on public gatherings.
The latest surge is sparking alarm across Europe and reviving the debate about how quickly businesses and borders can be reopened, and how best to combat the rise in infections. As of yesterday, England has restricted social gatherings to no more than six people. At the same time, millions of schoolchildren across Europe are for the first time in months heading back to their classrooms. The UK Institute for Employment Studies has just released a report showing how this year, in Britain, Covid-19 can cost 1 million jobs.
But while Europe is coping with a new wave of infections, other parts of the world are prying open borders and lightening constraints. This week, Saudi Arabia announced that it would partially lift a six-month suspension of international flights. South Korea says it will ease rules around Seoul after cases in the capital have declined.
Clinical trials on a range of vaccines around the world continue meanwhile. Researchers on the AstraZeneca-Oxford University project, which aims to conclude testing by the end of 2020, had "voluntarily paused" the trial last week after an unexplained illness developed by a volunteer.
But European director of the WHO, Hans Kluge, urges the public not to place all of their hopes on a single vaccine from just one country.
"I hear all the time ...... the vaccine will be the end of the pandemic. Certainly not. When communities learn to live with the disease, the end of the pandemic would come.
The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, meanwhile, warns that ... "far too little is being done to prepare for future pandemics, possibly even more damaging."
"Despite ample warnings, the crisis had revealed how little the world had focused on preparing for such disasters."