Covid: WHO Europe calls for intensified measures over ‘alarming’ virus variant

'We need to do more,' WHO Europe regional director  Hans Kluge said

Chantal da Silva
Thursday 07 January 2021 15:27 GMT
WHO Europe calls for intensified measures over 'alarming' virus variant

The World Health Organization's European branch has called for coronavirus measures to be ramped up in response to the recent discovery of a new variant.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO's regional director for Europe said the region faced a “tipping-point in the course of the pandemic”.  

"This is an alarming situation, which means that for a short period of time we need to do more than we have done and to intensify the public health and social measures to be certain we can flatten the steep vertical line in some countries," Dr Kluge said, wearing a mask as he delivered his statement.

The regional director said it was the “basic measures, with which we are all familiar, that need to be intesified to bring down transmission, lift the strain on our Covid-19 wards and save lives.”

Following coronavirus measures strictly, including obeying lockdown rules, practicing social distancing, wearing face masks and handwashing, he suggested, will help curb the spread. 

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The regional director was primarily sounding the alarm about the new coronavirus variant discovered in the UK. 

He said the mutation had been detected in 22 European countries so far. 

While Dr Kluge said the fact that the variant appeared to present no significant changes from the strain we were already familiar with he said that its higher transmissibility was alarming. 

“It is our assessment that this variant of concern may, over time, replace other circulating lineages as seen in the United Kingdom, and increasingly in Denmark," he said.

If countries are not able to control the spread, health systems across the region are likely to struggle. 

Dr Kluge’s warning comes as official figures showed that the UK had recorded a record-breaking 62,322 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period, with 1,041 coronavirus-linked deaths.

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