WHO-Europe chief calls for tolerance amid ‘pandemic paradox’

Insight Online News

Copenhagen, Jan 29 : Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Europe, has called for “tolerance and adherence to necessary (Covid-19) measures” as the continent deals with what he termed a “pandemic paradox”.

“This paradox, where communities sense an end is in sight with the vaccine but, at the same time, are called to adhere to restrictive measures in the face of a new threat, is causing tension, angst, fatigue, and confusion,” Kluge said during an online press briefing from Copenhagen on Thursday.

According to the WHO, a total of 35 countries in the European Region have begun Covid vaccinations, administering 25 million doses, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, he noted that “continued high rates of transmission and emerging Covid-19 variants of concern, have raised the urgency of the task to vaccinate priority groups”.

The WHO official also expressed the concern that “the increasing expectation of science and vaccine development, production, and equitable distribution, is not being met as fast as we would all like”.

Kluge explained that a continuance of lockdowns would be necessary to reduce the still high transmission rates affecting the region.

“Let us not forget the lessons we have learned so harshly: opening and closing, locking-down and opening-up, rapidly, is a poor strategy.

“The introduction and gradual lifting of measures based on epidemiological criteria remains our best option to allow economies to survive and minimise collateral effects. Our approach must be measured, it must be restrained,” he stressed.

The Regional Director underscored the “need to stay patient” as the pandemic has claimed the lives of over 700,000 Europeans since the coronavirus emerged, while leaving its brutal impact on economies, mental health, education, and freedom of movement.

To date, 33 European countries have reported cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK, while 16 confirmed the strain first detected in South Africa, according to the WHO official.

“This is the time we must draw on every reserve of patience and resilience to tolerate and adhere to the necessary measures that protect our health systems from collapsing under waves of a more transmissible virus.”

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the continent has so far registered a total of 32,218,360 confirmed coronavirus cases and 701,991 deaths.

IANS / AGENCY

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