The weekly COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Europe are rising faster now than they were during the pandemic’s peak in March, the World Health Organization (WHO) said during a virtual news conference Thursday. "We do have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO in Europe, said during the conference, according to NPR.
Last week, Europe’s new cases exceeded 300,000 patients. Dr. Kluge said that the rise in cases could be explained by more comprehensive testing but also “alarming rates of transmission across the region.” To note: More than half of European countries have reported an increase in cases of 10 percent or more in the past two weeks. Seven of these countries have seen new cases double in the same period.
Among countries where new cases are higher and staying high, according to The New York Times, are Spain, Czech Republic, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland and the U.K. Countries where new cases are low but going up are Greece, Slovakia, Sweden, Belarus, Norway, Germany and Finland.
The increase in cases, it has been mulled, could be a result of countries easing lockdowns, reopening their economies and borders to international visitors.
CNN reports that European governments are imposing strict local measures and are considering additional lockdowns in a bid to prevent a second wave of the pandemic. Dr. Kluge added: "Strict lockdown measures in the spring and early summer yielded good results. Our efforts, our sacrifices paid off. In June, cases hit an all-time low.”
What’s also of note: The biggest proportion of new cases is among 25- to 49-year-olds (although those aged 50 to 79 still saw an increase in cases in the first week of September).