World

WHO warns of ‘alarming rates’ of Covid transmission across Europe

COPENHAGEN: The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned yesterday of "alarming rates of transmission" of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods.

The WHO's regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said the number of cases seen this month "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us".

"Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region," he told an online press conference from Danish capital Copenhagen.

The health body also said it would not change its guidance calling for a 14-day quarantine period for anyone exposed to the virus.

In France for instance, the recommended length for self-isolation in case of exposure has been reduced to seven days.

It is 10 days in Britain and Ireland, and several more European countries, such as Portugal and Croatia, are currently considering reducing their recommendations.

The 53 member states of WHO Europe have recorded nearly five million cases and more than 227,000 related deaths, according to the organisation's own figures.

The number of daily cases recorded is currently between 40,000 and 50,000, comparable with a daily peak of 43,000 on April 1 - although testing in many countries has increased considerably.

CLOSING PUBS EARLIER

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday that he could close pubs earlier to "stop the second hump" of cases, comparing the country's trajectory of resurgent transmission to a camel's profile.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper, Mr Johnson said new measures may be needed as "the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas" and an alternative to another full lockdown.

"We can grip it now, stop the surge, arrest the spike, stop the second hump of the dromedary, flatten the second hump," Mr Johnson told the tabloid, before musing on his metaphor.

"Dromedary or camel? I can't remember if it is a dromedary or a camel that has two humps? Umm. Please check."

Dromedaries are Arabian camels that have only one hump. - AFP

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