LONDON, Apr 16 (Reuters) – Europe is in the eye of the COVID-19 pandemic storm, with nearly one million cases, and must exercise extreme caution when considering reducing quarantines, the director said Thursday. Regional of the World Health Organization.
“The numbers of cases across the region continue to rise. In the past 10 days, the number of reported cases in Europe has almost doubled to around 1 million,” WHO European Director Hans Kluge said during a conference online.
That means that about 50% of COVID-19’s global burden is in Europe, Kluge said, adding that more than 84,000 people on the continent have died from the disease.
“The storm clouds from this pandemic still weigh on the European region,” said Kluge.
The director said understanding of the complexity and uncertainty of a transition was essential as some countries begin to consider whether they can ease the restrictions and whether schools and some workplaces could begin to reopen.
Businesses and politicians around the world are concerned about the economic impact of prolonged quarantines. Some countries in Europe, such as Germany, Denmark, Spain and others, are beginning to think about how to ease some social restrictions.
Kluge said the WHO recognized that social distancing policies designed to curb the spread of the virus “are affecting lives and livelihoods.”
“People rightly ask: how much do we have to endure? And for how long? In response, we, governments and health authorities must find answers to identify when, under what conditions and how we can consider a safe transition,” the official stated.
First, any measure to lift confinements must ensure several key things, he said, including evidence that a country’s COVID-19 transmission is being controlled, the risks of outbreaks are minimized, and that health systems have the capacity to identify, test, trace and isolate cases.
“We remain in the eye of the storm … if it cannot be guaranteed that those criteria are met before the restrictions are eased, I urge that they be re-evaluated,” Kluge said. “There is no quick way to get back to normal.”
(Report by Kate Kelland, Edited in Spanish by Janisse Huambachano)