The World Health Organization warned at a briefing on Tuesday that Europe's COVID-19 death rates were alarmingly high, revealing that one person dies from the virus in the continent every 17 seconds.
“Europe accounts for 28% of global cases, and 26% of deaths cumulatively in the region,” Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, told the briefing.
“Last week, Europe registered over 29,000 new Covid-19 deaths. That is one person dying every 17 seconds.”
However, the director also added that there is some hope that the lockdown measures put in place in countries such as the UK, France, and Spain are actually working. The number of new infections decreased by 10% last week for the first time in three months, going down to 1,8 million.
As he praised these measures Kluge warned against easing lockdowns too soon, emphasizing that the political gain is just not worth the risk. "Too often we have seen the negative impact of easing too quickly,” he explained.
“There have now been over 15.7 million Covid-19 cases, and nearly 355,000 deaths reported to the WHO, with over 4 million more cases in November alone in the WHO European region,” he added, painting a bleak picture for the European continent.
Kluge also said that the current situation was overwhelming hospitals. The director cited "reports that in France, for example, intensive care wards have been at over 95% capacity for 10 days."
On a more positive note, Kluge stated that nations currently have the tools to fight the virus, naming mask-wearing, hand hygiene, and social distancing as a few of the measures that are quite adept at protecting people in the current climate. He referred to these new measures as a "new way of life" and called upon people to continue to exercise them diligently.
“Your country, community, family and friends, need you like they have never needed you before," he concluded.