People wearing face masks walk on the Trocadero Place near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Sept. 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)
"Last week, the region's weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients," said Kluge, adding that the rising number of new cases in September "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us."
COPENHAGEN, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- As COVID-19 infection rates soar in the European region, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge on Thursday called for greater "regional coherence," respect for "scientific knowledge," and asked the authorities to embrace new disciplines in tackling "COVID-related fatigue in populations."
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March, according to the WHO regional director.
"Last week, the region's weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients," said Kluge at a virtual press conference, adding that the rising number of new cases in September "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us."
According to Kluge, the past two weeks have witnessed more than half of the countries in the region reporting a rise of greater than 10 percent in new cases, with seven countries experiencing their caseloads doubling.
People dine under a canopy at a restaurant which is designed to keep different groups of diners separated and safe following the government's COVID-19 guidelines in London, Britain, Sept. 12, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
"Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, they also show alarming rates of transmission across the Region," said Kluge.
In light of a rising "second wave," Kluge called for "regional coherence, and an amplified collective effort by all European Member States, for the sake of all European Member States" as a way of dealing with the monumental impact on mental health, economies, livelihoods and society by COVID-19.
Europe currently has 4,893,614 positive cases and 226,524 recorded deaths.
Kluge stressed that society needs to respect and keep itself updated on scientific knowledge, especially quarantine, "a cornerstone of our fight against COVID-19."
"I encourage countries of the region to make scientific due process with their experts and explore safe reduction options. The concept of quarantine must be protected, continuously adapted, clarified, and well communicated without any ambiguity to the people," noted the WHO official.
A security member wearing a face mask is seen at the main train station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Aug. 29, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Voigt/Xinhua)
Moreover, Kluge expressed concerns that members were reporting COVID-related fatigue in their populations, effectively giving the virus a back door into infecting society.
While acknowledging that "fatigue is natural and it needs to be understood and addressed, where it puts us at risk," the regional director called on authorities to make proactive responses and to "embrace disciplines outside of the biomedical sphere, such as the social sciences and the humanities" in attempts to counteract fatigue.
People wearing face masks are seen on the subway in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)
Returning to the crucial importance of "regional coherence" and a spirit of collective support, Kluge expressed the WHO's support for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
On Wednesday, von der Leyen, in her State of the Union speech to the European Parliament, commended EU-WHO joint efforts and advocated revitalizing multilateralism.
"We share her vision for a European Health Union," said Kluge. ■