The World Health Organization has warned Europe about another pandemic round after the region reports a marked increase in the positive cases in recent days.
In a press conference on Thursday, Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for the EU, said, “Weekly cases had now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March.” Kluge continued that the ‘situation is dire’ as “last week, the region’s weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients.”
Europe is on the list of the top pandemic affected areas and sustained severe damages from the virus. Since the start of 2020, it has reported millions of cases and thousands of deaths. However, after the quarantine and lockdown implementations, the region’s condition started improving, and life began to return to normal.
“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,” said Kluge.
But, the prevailing situation for the last 14 days is alarming and a ‘wake-up call for everyone. The health experts fear the emergence of a second wave as half of the EU countries reports more than a 10 percent increase in the positive cases.
“More than half of European countries have reported a greater-than-10% increase in cases in the past two weeks. Of those, seven countries have seen newly reported cases increase more than two-fold in the same period,” Kluge added.
Reduction in the quarantine period could be the reason behind this increase. Many EU countries recently contracted the quarantine duration from 14 days to 7 days, saying that many people didn’t self-isolate for that period anyway.
However, Katie Smallwood, WHO Europe’s senior health emergency officer, said that the quarantine period was calculated based on the virus’ incubation period and transmission patterns and could only be altered on scientific approval.
“We would really re-emphasize that our position is that a 14-day quarantine is important for patients that have been exposed to the virus. We would only revise that based on a change in our understanding of the science, and so far, that’s not the case,” said Katie.
Kluge has appealed to the nations to take the situation seriously. He cited the damages that the pandemic has caused in the EU in the form of 4.9 million cases, 226,000 deaths, and lockdowns, and asked the people to be careful to contain the threat.
“This pandemic has taken so much from us. And this tells only part of the story.”