WHO warns of alarming situation in Europe, calls for regional coherence

Berlin, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization’s European director warned Thursday of “alarming rates of transmission” on the continent.

Hans Kluge said at a press conference to evaluate the latest infection data that Europe’s weekly case rates, which have exceeded 300,000, are higher than during the first peak in March.

“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,” he continued.

In the last two weeks, more than half of European countries recorded an increase of cases of more than 10 percent and in seven of them even doubled.

Europe has recorded 4,893,614 cases and 226,524 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Kluge called for “regional coherence” and coordinated action against the situation and new peak of the pandemic.

“In the spring and early summer, we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures,” he said.

“Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off. In June, cases hit an all-time low.”

He warned that this month’s figures “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us”.

Kluge said there is still room for action, given also that coronavirus mortality is still lower than it was in March.

He called for vigilance as autumn approaches, bringing seasonal flu, increased mortality among the elderly and reopening of schools for the start of the academic year.

Kluge also warned that the impact on peoples’ mental health, economies, daily lives and society in general has been “monumental”.

He called for a “collective effort” among the WHO’s 53 member states in Europe.

He described the contagion as “relentless” and said that bias and misinformation have exacerbated the crisis.

Kluge highlighted the situation in Spain and France which both suffered a strong wave of the pandemic earlier this year and appeared to have brought the situation under control but have recently reported notable increases in cases.

The drop in cases was not due to natural causes in the evolution of the virus but rather strict public health measures that were introduced, which is why infection rates have increased as restrictions have eased, he added.

He warned that a slight reduction in quarantine can have an “immense” individual and social impact.

Kluge added that there has been increasing “fatigue and resistance in the behavior that is helpful in fighting the virus”.

“It’s very important to give a signal, and certainly it’s a strong sign of solidarity,” he continued.

He said quarantine is a “cornerstone” in tackling the pandemic and that the most conservative estimates are that it should be a period of 14 days, which includes the three to five days before and the five days after the appearance of symptoms. EFE-EPA

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