Europe is again seeing “alarming rates of transmission” of the coronavirus — a “wake-up call” to avoid quarantine “fatigue,” the region’s World Health Organization director warned Thursday.
“We have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” warned Hans Kluge, the UN public health group’s regional director for Europe.
“Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March,” he revealed, noting last week’s tally “exceeded 300,000 patients,” with seven countries seeing cases doubling in the previous two weeks.
“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,” he said.
The rise is a particular blow because the continent previously appeared to be containing the contagion with “strict lockdown measures,” Kluge said.
“Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off,” he said, heralding the “all-time low” of infections in June.
“The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” he said.
Kluge noted the “fatigue” over quarantines, with France last week cutting its required quarantine time for people exposed to a potential COVID-19 case from 14 days to seven.
Kluge insisted that 14 days is a “conservative estimate of the infectious period” and “even a slight reduction” could have a significant effect on the virus’ spread.
“The concept of quarantine must be protected, continuously adapted, clarified and well communicated without any ambiguity,” he insisted.
“Where the pandemic goes from here is in our hands. We have fought it back before and we can fight it back again,” he said.
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