The World Health Organization's special envoy for COIVD-19 has criticized Europe's response to the novel virus warning it could trigger a third wave next year.
"The reaction in Europe was insufficient," David Nabarro said in an interview carried on Sunday by newspapers in the CH Media Group and by the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.
"There was a failure to build the necessary infrastructure in the summer months after getting the first wave under control. And now there is a second wave. If the necessary infrastructure is not built now, there will be a third wave, early next year," Nabarro warned.
The WHO envoy said Europe needs to look at the way Asian countries have handled the pandemic.
"One has to react quickly to the virus, robustly and decisively," he said. "Especially at the start, when the virus is still spreading very slowly in different communities. If you react half-heartedly, the problem will get bigger very quickly."
Nabarro said that too few political decision-makers understood that the virus was spreading exponentially.
"Exponential means, the numbers could rise 8 times in a week, 40 times in two weeks, 300 times in three weeks, over 1,000 times in four weeks, and so on," he said.
In Asia, however, the numbers are relatively low because "people are fully engaged, they take on behaviors that make it difficult for the virus," said Nabarro.
"They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they're sick, wash hands, and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups."
Nabarro also said Asia did not relax restrictions prematurely. "You must wait until case numbers are low and stay low," he said. "Europe's reaction was incomplete."
Nabarro works from Geneva and said that there has been a lack of support for some people infected by the virus in Switzerland.
"Switzerland has such high case numbers, especially French-speaking Switzerland, that a much more robust strategy is needed from the authorities, together with residents," he said.
Over the seven days to Nov. 20, Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health reported 615 deaths among laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the death toll to 3,575 since the beginning and was the deadliest since the arrival of the virus, accounting for 17% of total deaths.
In the week ending Nov. 20, there were 33,466 cases, a drop of 26%, and around 162,000 tests were conducted with a test positivity of 21%.
By Peter Kenny