European virus surge due to relaxed behaviour: WHO expert

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COPENHAGEN, Aug 13, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – A combination of eased
restrictions, less strict rule-following in summer and increased
testing explains the rising number of COVID-19 cases seen around
Europe, the European chapter of the World Health Organization (WHO)
said Thursday.
Nevertheless, deaths have not kept pace even as countries around
Europe have seen an increase in cases.

Richard Peabody, epidemiologist leading the High Threat Pathogens
Team at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, insists “there is no
suggestion of an overall change in severity (of the virus).”

Rather, the lower death rate can in part be explained by the
disease spreading among young people, who are generally spared the
most severe symptoms and suffer a lower mortality rate.

The WHO now fears people will become more lax about measures and
recommendations aimed at curbing the spread.

“The key message is if you take… the pressure off the virus, then
it will come back,” he said calling on European governments to be
mindful of the lessons learnt in the first months of the pandemic.

“The trick is to quickly identify new cases, new clusters, to try
to prevent further spread amplification,” Peabody said.

According to the WHO, nearly 3.7 million cases of COVID-19 have
been recorded in Europe since the start of the pandemic, and 218,383
deaths.

Around the world, over 20 million confirmed cases have been reported.