The head of the World Health Organisation’s Europe office says the continent’s coronavirus cases have been steadily increasing every week in the last two months even as the epicentre of the pandemic has shifted to the Americas.
At a press briefing on Thursday, Hans Kluge said that while the region’s countries had made “phenomenal efforts” to contain the virus after being hit hard earlier in the year, there were now about 26,000 cases every day across Europe.
Mr Kluge said new clusters of the virus are mainly occurring in localised settings like long-term nursing homes and food production facilities or have been sparked by travellers.
Mr Kluge called for students to return to classes where possible and said WHO Europe would be convening a virtual meeting of its 53 member countries on August 31 to discuss how schools across the region might be reopened safely.
Spain logged more than 3000 new cases for a second consecutive day on Thursday while Germany, whose successful early response in containing the coronavirus drew widespread international praise, has recorded the largest surge in daily cases since late April.
Greek authorities also reported more cases in August than in the first two months of the pandemic while Russia kept its daily infection rate below 5,000 cases for the fourth day in a row on Thursday.
The United Kingdom recorded 1182 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily total since June 21, according to government figures.
Thursday’s official data showed 190,434 tests were processed, compared to 117,971 on June 21.
Elsewhere, India counted another record number of new coronavirus infections on Thursday as it ramped up testing to more than 900,000 a day.
The 69,652 new cases pushed India’s total past 2.8 million, of which 2 million have recovered, the health ministry said.
The country also recorded 977 coronavirus fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising its total deaths to 53,866, the ministry said.
India has the third most cases in the world, behind the United States and Brazil, and the fourth highest number of deaths behind the US, Brazil and Mexico.
More than 22.55 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 787,681 have died.