“EWe are concerned about information about localized pressures in hospitals and overcrowding in emergencies, due to the confluence of respiratory viruses that are circulating”, said, at a press conference, the director of the WHO for Europe, Hans Kluge.
In the European region, which comprises 53 countries and includes Russia and several former Soviet republics, hospitalizations for influenza have increased by 58% in recent weeks compared to previous weeks, and admissions to intensive care by around 21%.
The most affected groups are those over 65 and young children.
“We see a high intensity of flu infections in several countries in the region. Health systems must be ready for a likely increase in flu cases in the coming weeks,” said Kluge.
The same official highlighted that, in addition to the flu and Covid-19, the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) also came together in these weeks, as well as other pathogens such as mycoplasmas and measles, which mainly infected children.
“RSV rates peaked before the New Year and are falling now, Covid-19 rates remain high but falling, and flu rates are growing rapidly,” said Kluge, highlighting that this trend is not necessarily “unusual”.
He also highlighted the importance of closely monitoring the evolution of influenza and other respiratory viruses and criticized the fact that 13 countries in the region had not provided data for last week.
The director of emergency programs, Catherine Smallwood, stressed on the same occasion that the WHO did not change the advice on the use of masks in the last year and recalled that there remains “a strong recommendation” to use them in health units, especially where Covid-19 is circulating.
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