But experts warn the signs point to more tragedy ahead this winter.
Europe’s hospitals are now better equipped for treating Covid-19. Measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing have become the norm and the latest spread of infection has been primarily among younger people, who are less likely to die if they contract the virus.
Yet colder weather is beginning to set in and the flu season is approaching. The infection is spreading to older populations, and there are signs that people are growing tired of adhering to the restrictions.
“Obviously we don’t really have any ways of preventing Covid from going around, other than the lockdowns or social distancing measures and so on; we don’t yet have a vaccine,” Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the UK’s University of Southampton, told CNN.
While he does not expect deaths to reach the levels seen in the first wave, Head added: “We’ll see a lot of spread of cases, we will see a lot of hospitalizations, and a lot of burden on our health service.
Europe is at a “decisive” point in dealing with its second wave of Covid-19 infections, the European Union’s Health Commissioner warned, adding the actions that people take now will determine the severity of restrictions needed in the coming months.
“Today we’re here to call on everyone to act decisively. It might be our last chance to prevent a repeat of last spring,” Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said at a news conference Thursday. “Moreover, autumn and winter are the time of the year for more respiratory illnesses including seasonal influenza.”
Prevent severe lockdowns: Kyriakides said people should not lower their guard because “the crisis is not behind us,” and cautioned against a situation where governments are forced to impose more severe lockdowns.
“(Such lockdowns) will be detrimental — detrimental to our mental health, detrimental to our economies, detrimental to the well-being and education of our children, detrimental to our working and daily lives.”
Mental health risk: This comes as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it’s concerned by the increase in cases across the continent, but also warns that re-imposing lockdown rules is likely to affect people’s mental health.
Changing quarantine rules: The ECDC also indicated there is scope for changing the quarantine rules for those who are exposed to the virus — by potentially reducing the 14 day quarantine to 10 days after exposure if a person returns a negative test at that point.
Pandemic is not uniform: While there has been an increase in cases throughout Europe, the ECDC says the pandemic is not having the same affect in all countries.
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