WHO warns against premature lifting of Covid restrictions in Europe

Copenhagen, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization’s Europe office warned on Thursday against the premature lifting of restrictions as transmissions of Covid-19 remain high, coupled with the risks posed by new coronavirus variants.

“Let us not forget the lessons we have learned so harshly. Opening and closing, locking down and opening up rapidly is a poor strategy,” WHO’s Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference.

Kluge said the best option is to introduce the “gradual lifting of measures based on epidemiological criteria,” in accordance with a moderate strategy.

Thirty nations have recorded a significant decrease in the number of new cases in the last 14 days, which is seven more countries than two weeks ago.

However, transmission rates remain “very high” and are “impacting health systems and straining services, making it too early to ease up,” according to Kluge, coupled with the greater uncertainty and risk posed by the new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

The United Kingdom variant has been detected in hospitals, schools and care centers across 33 countries, and the South African mutation in 16 nations.

“It is necessary to remember that only slightly more than 3 % of the population in the European region has been infected with Covid-19. Areas hit hard once can be hit again,” Kluge warned.

More than 700,000 Europeans have died from Covid-19, and 38,000 new deaths were recorded just last week.

“The increasing expectation of science and vaccine development, production and equal distribution is not being met as fast as we would all like,” the WHO director said.

Kluge also highlighted the paradox created by the arrival of a vaccine at the same time as new Covid variants appeared, increasing the urgency to vaccinate at-risk groups.

“Communities sense an end is in sight with a vaccine, but at the same time are called to adhere to restrictive measures in the face of a new threat that is causing tension, angst, fatigue and confusion. This is completely understandable in these circumstances.” EFE-EPA


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