Speed Reads

too much too fast

WHO official says rise in European COVID cases linked to restrictions being lifted too quickly

Several countries in Europe where COVID-19 cases are rising should have taken a more measured approach to lifting pandemic restrictions, Dr. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe, said on Tuesday.

Britain, Germany, France, and Italy are among the 18 European countries where cases are increasing, thanks to the Omicron subvariant BA.2, which is highly transmissible. In those countries, the governments lifted restrictions "brutally, from too much to too few," Kluge said. In England, for example, masks are not legally required in most public areas, but are still "strongly encouraged" on trains, buses, and subways.

Kluge said he is still hopeful, however, because temperatures are rising and more people will start spending time outside, rather than in crowded indoor areas where the virus can linger and spread. Also, even with cases rising in those European countries, the mortality rate is dropping. Kluge said he believes COVID-19 can be brought under control by patients receiving antiviral medicines that reduce the severity of disease and governments conducting more testing to find new variants.