WHO: The US should learn Covid-19 lessons from Europe

WHO warned the US to be cautious and closely monitor as Covid-19 has re-emerged across Europe, including in well-controlled areas.

Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Europe, said on November 8 that Americans “need to pay attention to the situation in Europe right now and learn from it”.

“The basic rule is that if there is a situation where there is a spike in cases, don’t wait. Put in place measures to prevent the virus from breaking out again as soon, as tightly as possible,” he emphasized.

When asked about the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas for Americans, he suggested that people can organize events in a safe way, reducing the number of people gathering. He particularly noted the need for vaccination and ventilation in enclosed spaces.

From November 8, the US government lifted the entry ban on visitors who had received Covid-19 vaccines from more than 30 countries, ending 20 months of travel restrictions. About 66% of the US population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 57% has completed the course of vaccination.

A family reunited at Virginia's international airport on August 11 after the US reopened borders.  Photo: AFP.

A family reunited at Virginia’s international airport on August 11 after the US reopened borders. Photo: AFP.

Meanwhile, Europe saw a new wave of infections with hospital admissions doubling in the past four weeks. The WHO is sounding the alarm, expressing “grave concern” as Europe is once again besieged by the epidemic, becoming the global epicenter of the latest outbreak.

According to Kluge, flat vaccination rates in some parts of Europe, along with easing restrictions, have led to a fourth wave of Covid-19. Countries with high vaccination rates, such as Portugal, appear to be avoiding serious outbreaks, but some Eastern European countries are seeing increased daily death rates.

Romania, among the countries with the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, is becoming one of the countries with the highest mortality rates globally. Germany on November 8 also reported the highest infection rate since the pandemic began.

In the UK, the virus spread in schools after the government abolished the requirement to wear masks and prevent epidemics, which is believed to be the cause of the increase in infections. The outbreak is raising fears that a new blockade order may be imposed during the winter.

“Vaccines change the game. But vaccines alone are not enough,” Kluge said. “We need to maintain pressure with the virus, not give up masks, wash hands, ventilate the house, especially in schools.”

Huyen Le (Follow CBS)

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