Simple measures can save 280.000 lives in Europe

The European Region has registered the highest weekly incidence of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic with almost 700,000 cases reported.

The European Regional director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that projections from reliable epidemiological models indicate that prolonged relaxing policies could propel – by January 2021 -daily mortality at levels 4 to 5 times higher than what we recorded in April.

“But the same models show that simple measures such as, for example, the systematic and generalized wearing of masks – at a 95% rate from now, instead of the less than 60% today- together with the strict control of social gathering whether in public or private spaces may save up to 281,000 lives by February 1 across our 53 Member states region,” Dr Hans Kluge the regional director of WHO today told a press conference.

“These projections nothing but confirm what we always said: the pandemic won’t reverse its course on its own. We will,” Dr Kluge added.

Confirmed cases in the region have now surpassed 7 million – moving from 6 to 7 million cases in just 10 days. Last weekend new records were reached with daily totals surpassing 120,000 cases for the first time, on both 09 and 10 October.

“Does it mean that we are back to mid-March? No, we are not,” dr. Kluge said. “Although we record 2 to 3 times more cases per day compared to the April peak, we still observe 5 times fewer deaths; the doubling time in hospital admissions is still two to three times longer.”

The regional director said the evolving epidemiological situation in Europe raises great concern since both daily numbers and hospital admissions are up.  COVID is now the fifth leading cause of deaths and the bar of 1000 deaths per days has now been reached.

“Measures are tightening up in many countries in Europe and this is good because they are absolutely necessary; they are appropriate and necessary responses to what the data is telling us,” Dr.Kluge added. “So, we need to be uncompromising with any locally adopted policy demanding for better self-protection and restricting situation of larger gatherings.”

On the question of new lockdowns, he said that today lockdown means a very different thing than earlier this year. “It means a stepwise escalation of proportionate, targeted and time-limited measures. Measures in which all of us are engaged both as individuals and as a society together in order to minimize collateral damage on our health, our economy and our society. “

“Our message is that any nation-wide tightening up decision must consider both the direct risks and the collateral damage associated with the pandemic,” Dr. Kluge concluded.


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