The head of the World Health Organization's European office is warning the continent remains "in the grip" of the coronavirus pandemic even as about three-fourths of the region's countries are easing restrictive measures.
Dr. Hans Kluge noted a reduction of cases in the region thanks to social distancing measures, adding: "We must monitor this positive development very closely." He said Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain still have high numbers of cases, and pointed to increases in cases in Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Of the 44 countries in WHO Europe's region that have enacted domestic restrictions, 21 have already started easing those measures and another 11 plan to do so in the coming days, Kluge said.
"This virus is unforgiving. We must remain vigilant, persevere and be patient, ready to ramp up measures as and when needed," he said. "COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon.
"The European region accounts for 46 percent of cases and 63 percent of deaths globally," he added. "The region remains very much in the grip of this pandemic."