WHO Europe head warns of the spread of the more transmissible delta variant

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned European countries against becoming complacent in their efforts to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic.   

Across the continent, governments have been increasingly easing pandemic-related restrictions as new case numbers in the region continue their downward trend. More social gatherings, sports events and travel across borders are also being permitted.

But concerns are growing that the appearance of the highly transmissible variant nicknamed “delta,” first detected in India, could contribute to a resurgence of the virus. 

“The fact that there’s a fast spread of the delta variant means that the virus still has the upper hand,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, told DW on Thursday.

“So, we have to be very careful about large, mass gathering events, particularly if it’s with people without masks, which still remains a hazard,” he said.

For now, the situation in Europe had improved, he said, pointing to falling numbers of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. “But we’re not out of the woods,” Kluge stressed.

“I do understand that no one wants to give up another summer, but we should not pay for it with another re-locked winter.”

Photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge . EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER ASTAFYEV / SPUTNIK / GOVERNMENT PRESS SERVICE POOL

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