The WHO has warned of more coronavirus deaths in Europe as the EU region reported nearly 50,000 new cases on Monday.
Particularly, Western Europe is becoming another hotspot for the pandemic as the region is seeing a second wave of infections, driven by surges in Spain and France.
France’s daily Covid-19 infections remain among the highest in the continent, with the latest figure of 7,000 down from the previous day’s all-time high of 10,561.
The World Health Organization warned that the worse is to come in October and November with more deaths in Europe, prompting several EU countries to reimpose restrictions.
It is believed that the current surge in the number of COVID-19 patients is largely an effect of relaxed border norms within various nations of the European Union.
The newly-infected people are mostly young, and were socializing as restaurants and bars also opened in some parts of Europe.
Luckily, the number of deaths is still low as more asymptomatic people tested currently and the treatment has also improved as compared to the first wave of the pandemic.
The travel industry in the EU was awaiting better times; but, for now, it is suggested that all non-essential travel plans be put on hold.
WHO Warns Of More Deaths In Europe
Hans Kluge, Europe director for the World Health Oganization, warned of more deaths in Europe in the coming months.
“It’s a moment where countries do not want to hear bad news but it’s going to get tougher,” said Kluge. “In October, November, we are going to see more mortality in Europe.”
The WHO’s 55 European member states are to hold their first ever online Regional Committee for Europe, #RC70Europe, on Monday and Tuesday to discuss their response to Covid-19 and agree on their overall five-year strategy.
Kluge warned against counting on the development of a vaccine to bring the pandemic to an end.
“I hear the whole time: ‘the vaccine is going to be the end of the pandemic’. Of course not!” he said. “We don’t even know if the vaccine is going to help all population groups. We are getting some signs now that it will help for one group and not for the other.”
Surge In France
The French Public Health Agency (Santé Publique France) announced 7,186 new confirmed cases on Sunday, with 66 new clusters identified.
Frédérique Vidal, the French Higher Education minister, called for renewed efforts to fight the spreading of the virus as “more than a dozen clusters” have been identified in universities.
In the north-eastern city of Rennes, 43 medicine students tested positive over the week-end. According to the regional health agency (ARS), they caught the disease while out in bars.
French doctors published an open letter where they are urging the population to be more vigilant and to avoid private gatherings among friends and families.
New Measures In Bordeaux
The local authorities in southwestern French city of Bordeaux said they will impose a series of measures to limit public gatherings to curb infections.
Bordeaux and the Mediterranean city of Marseille have emerged as virus hotspots, along with the capital Paris, heightening fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases despite face mask requirements and strict social-distancing rules.
Group and family gatherings in Bordeaux and the surrounding region will now be limited to 10 people or fewer, including in parks, the regional prefect Fabienne Boccio said at a press conference.
Standing at bars will no longer be allowed in the city of some 800,000 residents, nor will discotheques or private parties for marriages and other family events, she said.
And the maximum number of people allowed to watch sporting matches and large events will be cut to 1,000 from 5,000.
Companies are being urged to have employees work from home whenever possible, and bus services will be reinforced during rush hours to avoid crowding.
Only two people will be allowed to visit retirement home residents each week, in a bid to limit Covid-19 outbreaks among those most vulnerable to the virus, Boccio said.
Additional gendarme and riot police units will be deployed to enforce the measures, she added, and a fresh review of the situation will be carried out in the next two or three weeks.