WHO Europe Director Cautions COVID-19 Progress ‘Fragile’ 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for Europe said Thursday that COVID-19 cases in the region have dropped by 60% in the past month but cautions that progress is fragile and European countries are still struggling with the pandemic. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. Speaking at his weekly briefing in Copenhagen where WHO’s regional headquarters in Europe are located, WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge said eight countries in the organization’s European region still have infection rates of more than 150 per 100,000 people. He warns that transmissions could resurge as the region starts to reopen in the coming months. FILE – Medical staff take care of a COVID-19 patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the community hospital in Magdeburg, Germany, Apr. 28, 2021.“Right now, in the face of a continued threat and new uncertainty, we need to continue to exercise caution and rethink or avoid international travel,” Kluge said. “Vaccines may be a light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot be blinded by that light.” The comment comes one day after European Union officials announced a relaxation of coronavirus-related travel restrictions for nonessential travel. The new rules would allow fully vaccinated visitors from outside the European Union to visit the region for that purpose. But Kluge warned that the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India, has now been identified in at least 26 countries out of 53 in the WHO European region. He said most cases have a link to international travel. Kluge said there is ample proof that vaccines are working, but people should still not let down their guard. He urged people to get vaccinated but not to forget the other measures that have helped battle the pandemic.  “Every time an individual is vaccinated. Every time you choose to wear a mask and keep your distance, we make a major advance against a virus that will continue to reap rewards if we lower our guard,” he said. “However, let there be no doubt — thanks to your efforts, we remain on track to assign this pandemic to history.”  
  

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