Currently around 4,500 lives are lost daily in Europe due to COVID-19, the director of the World Health Organization for the mainland.
Hans Kluge reported during a press conference that, in the past two weeks, deaths from COVID-19 have increased by 18%. Last week, the region registered more than 29,000 new deaths from this disease.
“That is a person who dies every 17 seconds from COVID-19,” said the expert, adding that there are more and more signs that health systems are overwhelmed.
In France, he said, intensive care wards have been at more than 95% capacity for 10 days, and in Switzerland, those same units are at full capacity. Outbreaks are also being reported in schools, in long-term care settings, and in meetings.
“Every time we choose to follow health measures, stop the spread of misinformation, or address crisis denial, we help prevent loss of life due to COVID-19… If we all act, and the most privileged of us make an extra effort, we can make an impact ”, highlighted the director.
Kluge recalled that the continent already reaches more than 15.7 million cases and 355,000 deaths, with more than four million cases reported in November alone. Europe currently accounts for 28% of world cases and 26% of deaths, cumulatively.
However, it is not all bad news, weekly new cases of COVID-19 decreased from more than two million two weeks ago to about 1.8 million cases last week.
“It is a small sign, but it is a sign anyway. Those of you who have the strength and ability to do so, I urge you to continue to take on the challenge facing our society and our way of life. Your country, community, family and friends they need you like never”, Asked the expert to the citizens.
Protect the most vulnerable
Kluge stressed that health and social workers are under immense pressure and making great sacrifices, so greater responsibility is needed from all of us for the difficult winter season ahead.
One of the ways to support them is by using the mask. According to the expert, if its use reached 95% of the population, containment measures would not be necessary, but unfortunately now it is only 60% or less.
“Hundreds of millions of people are in some form of confinement, but we have learned that there is significant collateral damage associated with this, including an increase in mental health problems, alcohol and substance abuse, gender-based violence, disruption of services. essentials and a need for better financial support for affected people, including people who lose their jobs, ”he said.
He added that there are also technical and political difficulties in resorting to these measures, such as when they are relaxed too quickly.
“I am promoting a tier system based on the severity of community transmission, with a set of proportionate measures that could be considered at each level. This can better position government actions along a severity gradient that can go both ways without ever stopping, “he said.
IMF Photo/Jeff Moore
Use the technologies at hand
Kluge stressed that vaccines will not completely stop COVID-19 and do not answer all questions, but they represent great hope in the war against this virus.
“In the last few days, we have received good news with two particularly promising vaccines. However, this promise will never come true unless we ensure that all countries have access to the vaccine market, that they are delivered equitably, that they are implemented effectively, and that countries address their citizens’ concerns about getting vaccinated. ” , he expressed.
For the director it is also important to use the technologies that already exist, vaccinating the elderly and other vulnerable populations against influenza and pneumococcus.
“Recent scientific advances in rapid diagnostic tests (antigen tests) also provide a valuable option to shift the locus of the pandemic battle from hospitals to homes, to points of care, to communities, to put people in the center ”, he affirmed.
MSF / Bald Elm
The expert assured that the World Health Organization remains firmly committed to helping European countries keep primary schools open and guarantee safe learning for all.
“Children are not seen as the main drivers of transmission and, as such, school closings are not seen as an effective measure to control COVID-19. For those countries that are considering this course of action, I ask you to consider the adverse effects of school closures in terms of educational outcomes and mental and social well-being, ”he said.
Hans Kluge sent a message to the children warning them that It will be a different Christmas but it can still be joyous.
“During Ramadan, community groups found safe solutions to break the fast, including virtually or by delivering meals to homes for remote celebrations. A virtual Diwali with free online events organized by municipalities across Europe guaranteed safe parties, ”he said.
He added that large gatherings should be postponed and that despite the cold, meeting loved ones outside is a good idea if restrictions allow.
“We are seeing signs of community spirit and support already throughout the Europe region, with shelters planning to deliver hot meals and food packages to the homeless at Christmas, planned online festivities, and popular department store Christmas windows revealing themselves to through Facebook live events, etc., ”he said.
The highest representative of the WHO in Europe stressed that it was not the time to lose hope, but to do everything possible to reduce individual and community risk.