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WHO Warns Of Alarming Rates Of COVID Transmission In Europe

who europe covid 091720 lt

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned that Europe is bracing for a "very serious situation" regarding the coronavirus, as it is going to transmit at alarming rates across the continent.

"We have a very serious situation unfolding before us," WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge said while addressing a news conference. "Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March."

"Last week, the region's weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients," Kluge added.

New cases of COVID infection increased by more than 10 percent in more than half of European countries in the last two weeks.

Of those, seven countries have seen newly reported cases increasing more than two-fold in the same period. This should serve as a warning of the immediate threat, according to the WHO official.

The Czech Republic on Wednesday reported 2,139 coronavirus cases - the highest number of new cases in a single day in the country.

Wales locked down one of its biggest regions, and France closed dozens of schools after reporting surges in cases.

New restrictions were imposed in Spanish capital Madrid after an increase in infections.

"In the spring and early summer we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures. Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off," Kluge told reporters. He cited the situation in June, when cases hit an all-time low.

The September case numbers should serve as a "wake-up call" for European governments, Kluge added.

The WHO also insisted on maintaining the 14-day quarantine period for people exposed to the coronavirus.

WHO's senior emergency officer for Europe Catherine Smallwood said the recommendation is based on a scientific understanding of the virus's incubation period and transmission.

European countries are currently following different quarantine periods, varying between seven days and 14 days.

"Knowing the immense individual and societal impact even a slight reduction in the length of quarantine can have... I encourage countries of the region to make scientific due process with their experts and explore safe reduction options," said Kluge.

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