Covid-19 is a “tornado with a long tail” and increased case counts among young people could ultimately see the virus passed on to more vulnerable older people and cause an uptick in deaths, the World Health Organisation’s chief for Europe has warned.

Dr Hans Kluge said younger people are likely to come into closer contact with the elderly as the weather cools in Europe.

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Speaking at WHO’s Europe headquarters in Copenhagen, he said: “We don’t want to do unnecessary predictions, but this is definitely one of the options: That at one point there would be more hospitalisations and an uptick in mortality.”

Dr Kluge said 32 of 55 state parties and territories in WHO’s European region have seen a 14-day incidence rate increase of more than 10%, calling that “definitely an uptick which is generalised in Europe”.

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But he also suggested health authorities and other officials are better positioned and more prepared than in February, when the continent was on the cusp of a huge surge in cases and deaths.

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