Stockholm, Dec 13 (IANS) The European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) could face 'significant pressure' on healthcare systems in the coming months, he European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned.
In its latest risk assessment published on Monday, ECDC said the pressure would come from the 'concurrent circulation' of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses, reports Xinhua news agency.
'The end-of-year festive season is associated with activities such as social gatherings, shopping and travelling, which pose significant additional risks for transmission of RSV and other respiratory viruses,' said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon.
Several EU/EEA countries are experiencing high RSV circulation, and the number of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) due to RSV infection is also increasing.
RSV infections at this time of the year are not unusual, but have come earlier and in higher numbers this year than in the pre-pandemic period, also proportionately affecting more children, ECDC said.
The EU/EEA countries are also experiencing an early influenza season, and a possible resurgence of Covid-19 after weeks of falling cases and hospitalizations, it added.
In addition to an increased number of hospitalizations, the co-circulation of RSV, influenza virus, SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses might lead to staff shortages due to sick leave.
Maintaining an adequate ratio of staff to patients, especially in ICUs, is critical to maintaining patient safety and quality of care, ECDC stressed.
'Reinforcement of healthcare systems and support of healthcare workers should be prioritized due to the risk of severe pressure on our healthcare systems in the coming weeks and months.
'Vaccination against influenza and Covid-19 should also be a priority among risk groups,' Ammon said.
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