Three statistics that show the severity of Europe’s second wave of COVID-19

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
A woman waits in front of a pharmacy with a sign reading "Results in 15 minutes, here Covid-19 test, save lives, stay careful" in Le Perreux-sur-Marne, eastern Paris, on November 18, 2020. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman waits in front of a pharmacy with a sign reading 'Results in 15 minutes, here COVID-19 test, save lives, stay careful' in Paris, France. (Getty)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a fresh warning about the severity of the current outbreak of COVID cases across Europe.

With several European countries – including France, Germany and the UK – recently imposing fresh lockdowns, the continent is once again attempting to get a grip on the pandemic.

With an eye on a return to some kind of normality, the UK government is mulling over plans to temporarily relax restrictions for several days over Christmas so that families are able see each other.

During a press conference on Thursday morning, WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge outlined three statistics that showed the severity of the current outbreak for the whole of Europe:

  • A third of countries have reported 14-day incidence rates of more than 700 per 100,000 people

  • COVID-19 deaths have increased by 18% in the past two weeks

  • Currently one person dies from COVID-19 every 17 seconds in the European region

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 23: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (not seen) in Moscow, Russia on September 23, 2020. (Photo by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Hans Kluge outlined stark statistics on Europe's second coronavirus wave. (Getty)

Kluge said that some health systems are being overwhelmed on the continent, where more than 29,000 deaths were recorded in the past week alone.

He said: "Europe is once again the epicentre of the pandemic, together with the United States.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel but it will be a six tough months.”

Watch: Berlin protesters rally against COVID legislation

While addressing the worrying figures, Kluge maintained that more lockdowns were avoidable – if mask-wearing was made near-universal.

He added: ”Lockdowns are avoidable, I stand by my position that lockdowns are a last resort measure.

“Mask use is by no means a panacea, and needs to be done in combination with other measures.

“However, if mask use reached 95%, lockdowns would not be needed.”

Boris Johnson plans a return to the regional tiered system of restrictions in England once the second lockdown ends on 2 December – something that Kluge came out in support of.

He said: “I am encouraging a tier system based on levels of seriousness in community transmission, with a set of proportionate measures that could be considered under each one of them.

“This can better situate government’s actions along a gradient of severity that can go both ways without ever stalling.”

An employee of a new Lufthansa corona quick test center waits for passengers at the airport in Munich, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Lufthansa starts the first test runs for comprehensive Covid-19 antigen rapid tests on selected routes between Munich and Hamburg. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
An employee of a new Lufthansa coronavirus quick test centre waits for passengers at the airport in Munich, Germany. (AP)

Kluge warned about the negative impact of “easing too quickly”, and said they should be lifted safely and gradually.

Primary schools should be kept open, Kluge said, adding that children and adolescents are not driving the spread of coronavirus and school closures are "not effective".

Despite encouraging news in the last week about vaccines, they are "not a silver bullet because we know the supply will be limited particularly in the beginning," he said.

Syringes are seen in front of displayed Biontech and Pfizer logos in this illustration taken November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
A Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is set to roll out in the UK from December. (Reuters)

Pfizer and BioNTech recently announced that their vaccine candidate has shown 95% efficacy, with a 94% effectiveness in those aged 65 and over.

Forty million doses of that vaccine have been bought by the UK, with rollout potentially starting in early December if the jab is given the green light by regulators.

Earlier in the week US biotech firm Moderna released data suggesting its vaccine is almost almost 95% effective.

Watch: 8 exceptions to England’s lockdown

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