WHO: Europe facing ‘very serious situation’ as cases climb

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Sept. 18 (UPI) — The World Health Organized warned the coronavirus is again surging in Europe, with weekly case numbers surpassing those seen when the pandemic first peaked in the region in March.

Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO in Europe, warned Europe during a virtual news conference Thursday “that we do have a very serious situation unfolding before us.”

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“Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March,” he said. “last week, the region’s weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients.”

Lockdown measures of the spring and early summer paid dividends with cases hitting an all-time low in June, he said, but in the past two weeks, more than half of European countries reported a greater than 10% increase in cases with seven of those countries experiencing a more than two-fold increase.

“The September case numbers should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” he said.

The jump does reflect an increase in testing, he added, but it also shows the coronavirus is spreading at “alarming rates” throughout the region with the largest proportion of those becoming infected being between the ages of 25 and 49.

Since the pandemic began late last year, Europe has diagnosed more than 4.8 million patients with COVID-19, with more than 226,000 of them losing their lives to the disease.

Kluge said the pandemic has taken much from everyone, but the figures only show a portion of its consequences.

“The impact on our mental health, economies, livelihoods and society has been monumental,” he said.

Once the epicenter of the virus early this year, Europe was able to stabilize infections but in order to do that again Kluge called for regional coherence and an amplified collective effort by all European nations as such cohesion has been effective and the virus has been “merciless whenever partisanship and disinformation prevailed.”

“Where the pandemic goes from here is in our hands,” he said. “We have fought it back before and we can fight it back again.”

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