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A top World Health Organisation medic says European countries must not "celebrate" declining death tolls - and focus on preparing for a second Covid-19 wave in the winter.

Dr Hans Kluge made the ominous warning as countries look to reduce lockdown restrictions.

Video: WHO Europe advises Europeans to be vigilant (Press Association)

Dr Kluge, director for the WHO European region, said he is "very concerned" that coronavirus could peak again as health services battle with winter flu.

He called on countries to strengthen by increasing the number of emergency beds, saying it is a time for "preparation, not celebration".

He told The Telegraph : "Singapore and Japan understood early on that this is not a time for celebration, it's a time for preparation. 

"That's what Scandinavian countries are doing – they don't exclude a second wave, but they hope it will be localised and they can jump on it quickly."


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And he continued: "I’m very concerned about a double wave – in the fall, we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles."

His view was echoed by Robin Shattock, of Imperial College London, who warned of a "double whammy" for the health service later this year

He told The Times : "The real big danger is if we see the kind of number of cases of Covid-19 that we’re seeing now next winter — and we also have a seasonal flu.

"That could be a double whammy for the health service."

At this afternoon's Downing Street briefing, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the country is moving toward level three on the five-tier Covid alert system - which would see some of the strictest measures reduced.

Since the lockdown was put in place on March 23, it has been in level four - meaning the threat is classed as "severe".

Level three means it is classed as "substantial".

But Mr Sharma warned that bringing the country back to normal must be done in "careful steps" in order to avoid a second peak of cases

Source: UK health authorities. Cases are shown by local authority in England, and by health board in Wales and Scotland.Northern Ireland is not currently providing localised figures.

Coronavirus and you: Supporting mental health through lockdown and beyond

Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In ​​​​​​​ Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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