Europe has seen a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases since lockdown easing began, the World Health Organization has warned, amid fears of a second wave.
‘Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months,’ the WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge told reporters.
‘Thirty countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks. In 11 of these countries, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe,’ he warned.
Kluge did not identify the countries by name, nor provide detailed numbers.
Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, as he gives a press conference in Rome earlier this year. On Thursday he said: ‘Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months’
Data from the European Union shows a gradual decline in cases from around the start of April and continuing through this week.
However, there are countries which have seen major outbreaks since easing lockdown, including Germany which suffered a major setback this week.
On Tuesday, it reimposed lockdowns on 640,000 people in two districts in the western part of the country after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse infected more than 1,500 workers.
Portugal also imposed new restrictions in and around its capital on Tuesday.
Kluge noted that the European region was reporting a decreasing proportion of global cases than earlier in the year, as the pandemic hits the Americas with full force, but Europe continues to report close to 20,000 new cases and over 700 new deaths daily.
Kluge meanwhile singled out Poland, Germany, Spain and Israel for their swift responses to outbreaks in schools, coal mines, and food production settings in recent weeks.
‘Where new clusters of cases appeared, these have been controlled through rapid and targeted interventions. This is very good news,’ he said.
Kluge’s warnings for the continent comes after the WHO predicted the world would reach the grim milestone of 10 million infections within the next seven days.
Kluge noted that the European region was reporting a decreasing proportion of global cases than earlier in the year, as the pandemic hits the Americas with full force, but Europe continues to report close to 20,000 new cases and over 700 new deaths daily (pictured: Data from the European Union shows a steady decrease in new cases since around April)
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, told a press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday: ‘This is a sober reminder that even as we continue R&D (research and development) into vaccines and therapeutics, we have an urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives.’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced that from July 4, families can be reunited, drinkers can enjoy a trip to the pub and people can go on holiday in England.
The Prime Minister claimed the ‘national hibernation’ was ending, but the Government’s own scientific experts signalled that people would still need to accept significant restrictions on their way of life for months to come because the threat posed by coronavirus had not gone away.
Mr Johnson acknowledged the fight was ‘far from over’, but said ‘life is returning to our streets’.