With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Europe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is raising concerns about a second wave in the region.
Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, warned that the resurgence of the virus could have catastrophic consequences.
Kluge referred to the situation in the region as alarming and said it "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us," at a news conference in Copenhagen on Thursday, CNN reported.
More than half of European countries reported a 10% increase in new cases in the past two weeks, according to the WHO. The region reported 300,000 new cases in a week.
"Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region," Kluge said.
In the past two months, cases of coronavirus have been steadily increasing, Kluge explained. There were more reported cases in Europe during the first week of August than there were in June, the period with lowest number of cases.
On Thursday, Spain reported 11,291 confirmed new cases and 162 deaths, and Britain reported 4,322 new cases and 27 deaths on Friday. In France, there were 10,593 new cases and 50 deaths reported on Thursday.
Countries in the region had been easing lockdowns and social distancing restrictions over the summer, which Kluge said was partially responsible for the surge in cases.
"In the spring and early summer, we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures. Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off," Kluge said. "In June, cases hit an all-time low."
Kluge stressed that knowledge about how to contain the virus has greatly improved since the outbreak first arrived in Europe.
"We have fought it back before and we can fight it back again," he said.
On Aug. 20, Kluge also delivered a statement during an online press conference on behalf of the WHO. He urged governments to enforce restrictions at the advice of health experts, manage the approaching influenza season, and find innovative ways to sustain the economy.
He emphasized the importance of addressing the virus quickly. The pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to education systems, and tackling the virus will allow 1.6 billion learners in 190 countries to return to school.
Kluge also pointed to recent outbreaks that are impacting Europe’s most vulnerable people, such as refugees and marginalized groups, to illustrate the need for a collective effort to combat the spread of the virus.