The rate of spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe has slowed over the past week despite increasing death rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
The agency said that even as Europe accounts for about 50 percent of all new global deaths from the virus, new cases fell about 6 percent last week and 10 percent the week before, The Associated Press reported. The trend suggests the reimposition of new lockdown measures in most European countries has proven effective in slowing down the pandemic, according to the news service.
In Britain, which recently renewed strict lockdown restrictions, cases fell 13 percent last week, the first time since August that cases declined week-to-week. About 1,600 Britons were hospitalized a day as of mid-November, a decline of nearly half from over 3,000 daily in April, the AP noted.
The news comes as France, which is the hardest-hit country in Europe, announced it will begin easing some restrictions this week, reopening retailers while maintaining social distancing.
“We need to do everything to prevent a third wave, do everything to prevent a third lockdown,” French President Emanuel Macron said, according to NPR.
Last week, a WHO coronavirus envoy to Europe warned the region could be at risk of a third wave of the virus in 2021 if it does not wait for a sustained, long-term decline in new cases before rolling back restrictions.
“Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year,” the WHO’s David Nabarro said. He also noted East Asian countries like South Korea, where “people are fully engaged, they take on behaviors that make it difficult for the virus. They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they’re sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups.”
WHO: Pandemic has slowed down in Europe | TheHill – The Hill