The World Health Organization has advised Europeans to travel responsibly during the holiday season, as it cautioned that the continent was “by no means out of danger” in the battle against the deadly CoronaVirus.
“With increasing social gatherings, greater population mobility, and large festivals and sports tournaments taking place in the coming days and weeks, WHO Europe calls for caution,” the WHO’s European head Hans Kluge told in a press briefing.
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“If you choose to travel, do it responsibly. Be conscious of the risks. Apply common sense and don’t jeopardize hard-earned gains.”
The call came although a recent stable decline in infection rates in Europe.
Over the last two months, there have been fewer new Coronavirus cases, deaths, and hospitalizations, prompting 36 out of 53 countries in the region to start easing restrictions.
The number of reported COVID-19 infections last week came in at 368,000, a fifth of weekly cases reported during a peak in April this year, Kluge said.
“We should all recognize the progress made across most countries in the region, we must also acknowledge that we are by no means out of danger,” he added.
This variant, he said, “shows increased transmissibility and some immune escape is poised to take hold in the region while many among vulnerable populations, above the age of 60, remain unprotected”.
Countries should learn from the revitalization in cases seen over the European summer last year, even as vaccinations are being rolled out across the region, Kluge said.
“Let’s not make that mistake again,” he said, adding that “with just 30 percent in the region having received their first dose of vaccines, this would not be enough to prevent another wave”.