WHO warns of coronavirus momentum as winter looms in north

Physiotherapist Ana Carolina Xavier of FamilyCare, a group specialising in mobile physiotherapy care, and who also works at the ICU of Lagoa-Barra field hospital for COVID-19 patients, checks a patient as she returns to work after recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the ICU, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil July 2, 2020. Picture taken July 2, 2020.REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is spreading at a worrying pace in some parts of the northern hemisphere, a few months away from the winter influenza season.

“We are starting to see worrying trends in some countries,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19, said during a social media webcast.

“We are seeing increases in hospitalisations, in intensive care units, particularly in Spain, France, Montenegro, Ukraine and some states of the United States. That is worrying because we have not seen the flu season yet.”

Van Kerkhove also said hospitalisations of people aged 15-49 infected with COVID-19 were increasing in several countries. Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, advised people at high risk for COVID-19 infections to get a flu vaccination.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by Catherine Evans