WHO claims “delayed epidemic” in eastern Europe as coronavirus cases increase in Russia

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A delayed coronavirus epidemic has taken hold in eastern Europe as cases and deaths are increasing in Russia while epidemics in western Europe are starting to decrease, global health officials said on Friday.

“There are currently differences between Western Europe, which crossed this first great wave, and Eastern Europe, in particular the Russian Federation, which now experiences a higher number of diseases,” said the Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Program. during a press briefing.

Russia is now the fifth most infected country in the world with more than 187,800 cases, surpassing Germany and France, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has extended the city’s foreclosure until the end of May, according to the Moscow Times.

“Russia is just in a different phase of the pandemic and can learn from some of the lessons that have been learned at great cost in Asia, North America and Western Europe,” said Ryan.

Ryan said the country has implemented “very large-scale public health and social distancing measures”, while increasing laboratory tests across the country in response to the epidemic.

A wave of deaths

He said the country had tested nearly 430,000 people and that the rate of positive testers was close to 3.6%, which is quite low compared to other countries.

However, the disease is “clearly having an impact” on the country, which has recently seen a sharp increase in deaths related to Covid-19, said Ryan. The country now reports more than 1,723 Covid-19 deaths, according to Hopkins.

“I think the government has really moved its responses much more aggressively in the past week, as I think there is a growing awareness that this disease requires a larger response,” said said Ryan.

People wear masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus pandemic in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, March 17, 2020.

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Reproduction rate

The virus’s reproduction rate, which measures how quickly it spreads, varies depending on where people and countries live to try to slow it down, said Ryan.

“You have to look at the population density, you have to look at the way people live, you have to look at the way they interact,” he said. “It could affect how the disease is spread in many countries. “

A reproductive number, or R zero, of 2 indicates that two people will catch Covid-19 from each infected patient. If it is greater than 1, the virus will take off, said WHO officials. The goal is to bring the R below 1 “and the virus will go away,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO senior scientist on Covid-19.

“This is the first pandemic in history that we can control by taking these measures: find, isolate, test, treat, find all contacts and put these contacts in quarantine, involve your populations, let them know what ‘They can do to protect themselves and others,’ she said.

Break the chain

If countries close their doors, isolate known contacts and quarantine infected people, the virus has no chance of spreading to others, WHO officials said.

“In fact, you are breaking the chain of transmission and the virus has nowhere to go. The virus needs a person to be able to transmit to another person, “said Kerkhove.

They cited Singapore as an example of a country where the virus was under control until an epidemic in densely populated areas caused the virus to resurface, said Kerkhove. She warned that long-term care facilities and prisons – where people live closely – are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks and that authorities must find ways to prevent the transmission of the virus from person to person. other.

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