There has been a significant increase in new cases of coronavirus in countries around Europe after many nations eased their lockdown restrictions.
New cases rose on the continent for the first time in months. In an official statement, Hans Kluge, head of the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe, said that there had been a “very significant resurgence”, particularly in 11 countries, with the most alarming increases in regions including Sweden, Armenia, Republic of Moldova, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Kosovo.
“30 countries/territories have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks,” he said. “In 11 of these countries/territories, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe.”
Spain, Germany, Poland and Israel also had significant outbreaks in schools, coal mines and food factories. However, those outbreaks were well handled by authorities. Germany has seen a spike of about 1,500 new cases in slaughterhouses and low-income residential blocks, while there have been over 1,100 new cases reported in Ukraine in the last 24 hours.
“Where new clusters of cases appeared, these have been controlled through rapid and targeted interventions,” added Kluge.
He did, however, have very positive sentiments regarding shifts in people’s behaviour and the application of digital technologies to aid with contact tracing.
“And on another positive note, several Ministers of Health reported a change in people’s behaviour, namely that they are adhering to physical distancing and wearing facial masks,” he said. “Bravo to the people!”
“At the same time, we need to get smarter in using the evidence and the information we have from our COVID-19 surveillance systems to improve the only way we have to minimise transmission: find, isolate, test and care for every case. Trace and quarantine every contact.”
“Here, digital technology can play a leading role, not least to support contact tracing. Austria, Georgia and North Macedonia are among the 27 countries that have released national solutions for digital contact tracing in Europe; with at least another 4 countries (Andorra, Finland, Ireland, Portugal) having solutions underway.”
“Digital technology and artificial intelligence have also proved to be effective in other aspects of pandemic response.”
Other technology solutions, such as an Artificially Intelligent smartphone app in France and Italy, as well as a camera that measures vital health statistics, while Sweden is offering telemedicine solutions in order to support traditional care, particularly for rural areas.