Madrid Desk, Oct 15 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization said Europe needed to be uncompromising in taking measures against the winter surge of Covid-19 while the European Commission warned that countries were not as prepared as they were in March.
The WHO’s Europe director Hans Kluge said the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic on the continent raised “grave concerns” and that restrictive measures being adopted were necessary.
“This is more than ever pandemic times for Europe. But pandemic times does not necessarily mean dark times,” he told a news conference. He said the number of confirmed cases in Europe had increased from six to seven million in the space of 10 days.
Kluge said Covid-19 was now the fifth leading cause of death in Europe and that the number of daily cases overall has reached the grisly 1,000 milestone.
“Does it mean that we are back to mid-March? No we are not,” he said, adding that compared to the peak in April there were currently five times fewer deaths and the doubling time for hospital admissions was two to three times slower.
“The virus has not changed, it has not become more or less dangerous.”
“We need to be uncompromising,” he added. “A proportional and targeted response is the way forward.”
Senior European Union officials warned that time was running out to enact mitigating action against the resurgence in Covid-19 infections.
“While the evolution of the pandemic is getting back to March levels, our state of preparedness is not,” Margaritis Schinas, Commission vice president, said. He urged EU leaders to take unified action to curb the virus.
“It is only by acting together that we will avoid the cacophony and be more efficient than in the past.”
Health and food safety commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, said: “It is with great concern that I am witnessing the increasingly rapid rise of infection rates all across the EU.
“Time is running out – everyone’s first priority should be to do what it takes to avoid the devastating consequences of generalised lockdowns.”
The EU is currently preparing a vaccination strategy outlining priority groups once an immunization to Covid-19 is available, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.
Among those first to receive a future vaccine include frontline health workers and the over 60s, according to the Commission’s proposals.
Authorities in London will raise its public health alert to its second highest level from midnight on Friday as the city struggles to contain a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.
New measures include bans on indoor meetings of people from different households, mayor Sadiq Khan said.
Khan said the measures — which he said should be implemented nationwide — were needed to save thousands of lives and protect the city’s economy, already “reeling” from the lockdown in the spring.