WHO warns of ‘very serious situation’ in Europe, with coronavirus
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that coronavirus cases are surging alarmingly in Europe, as a “very serious situation” unfolds across the continent, reports CNN.
As Covid-19 infections spike to record numbers, European governments are imposing strict local measures and weighing up further lockdowns in a bid to halt a second wave of the pandemic.
But WHO regional director Hans Kluge said at a Thursday news conference that the increase in cases should serve as a warning of what is to come.
“Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March,” Kluge said. “Last week, the region’s weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients.”
More than half of European nations have reported an increase of more than 10% in new cases in the past two weeks, Kluge added. “Of those, seven countries have seen newly reported cases increase more than two-fold in the same period,”
“In the spring and early summer we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures. Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off. In June cases hit an all-time low. The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” he said.
“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region.”
While there was an increase in cases in older age groups, those aged 50 to 79, in the first week of September, Kluge said, the biggest proportion of new cases is still among 25- to 49-year-olds.
Countries across the continent have been easing lockdowns and reopening their economies, but governments are now scrambling to avert further outbreaks.
“This pandemic has taken so much from us,” Kluge said, citing the nearly 4.9 million recorded Covid-19 cases in Europe and more than 226,000 deaths. “And this tells only part of the story,” he said. “The impact on our mental health, economies, livelihoods and society has been monumental.”