GENEVA

Europe is reporting an average of 26,000 new coronavirus cases every day, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday while warning of a resurgence of the virus.

European countries registered 40,000 more cases in the first week of August, said WHO European director Hans Kluge at a briefing.

“The European Region has registered 3.9 million cases corresponding to 17% of the global total, that is approaching 22 million cases,” he said.

He said the epicenter of the pandemic is now in the Americas but other regions are also seeing a steep rise in cases.

“Between May and July, many countries managed to suppress transmission, where policy decisions were prompt and responsive. But the virus has been merciless, where there was partisanship, disinformation, and denial. The risk of resurgence has never been far away,” said Kluge.

Kluge attributed this partially to the relaxation of public health and social measures.

“And people have been dropping their guards,” he said. “The good news is that now we know much more about the transmission of this virus, particularly how it is spread indoors in poorly ventilated settings, and especially where large numbers of people are coming together and speaking loudly or singing.”

The WHO director said localized outbreaks and clusters are now occurring with higher frequency from enclosed settings, such as workplaces and care homes linked to specific events, social gatherings, communities, food production, industrial facilities, and travel.

“Recent outbreaks among vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees, illustrate how we cannot leave anyone behind as this virus increases inequalities,” said Kluge.

He noted that as the northern summer turns, “we must make sure that we adopt the right public health measures to enable the safe return to school, manage the approaching influence or season” and sustain economies.

Kluge said the WHO European regional office is convening a virtual meeting for all 53 countries, honoring the opening of schools and COVID-19 on Aug. 31, “where concrete actions will be discussed.”

They would look at ensuring that children receive proper education in safe settings and that the options might include heightened hygiene and physical distancing in school settings.

He suggested adjusting school channels and limiting classroom sizes where cases are more widespread, and the need to consider keeping schools closed temporarily in areas where virus transmission is high.

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