Europe may be facing its “last chance” to avoid a repeat of the widespread coronavirus outbreak in the spring, a senior official has warned, as data showed 13 countries were experiencing a sustained rise in cases.
Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety, said:
With some member states experiencing higher numbers of cases than during the peak in March, it is abundantly clear that this crisis is not behind us.
Urging all EU member states to be ready to roll out control measures, she said:
This might be our last chance to prevent a repeat of last spring.
She was speaking as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published a risk assessment that showed the varied picture across the European Economic Area and the UK.
The ECDC said “sustained increases” – a rise in 14-day case notification rates greater than 10% – were being seen in 13 countries: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the UK.
Some of these countries, such as the Czech Republic and Spain, fell into a category of “high concern”, with their healthcare systems under pressure and high bed occupancy rates in intensive care units. Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Malta and Romania also fell into this group.
In contrast, countries with a stable trend, where the overall probability of infection was deemed low, included Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.
ECDC director Andrea Ammon said a large number of new infections affected people aged between 15-49, which she said posed a risk to them, as 44% of severe cases in the last four weeks were among this age group. But there was also a risk to vulnerable groups exposed to the virus by younger people.
Kyriakides also urged EU member states to tackle “real Covid-19 fatigue” among the population, including by “reach[ing] out to young people and making them understand the situation we’re up against”.