The World Health Organisation’s Europe director has warned the highly transmissible Covid-19 variant first identified in India is “poised to take hold in the region” as many countries prepare to ease restrictions and allow more social gatherings and travel across borders.
During a press briefing on Thursday, the WHO’s Dr Hans Kluge said the Delta variant has shown signs of being able to evade some vaccines and warned that some people in vulnerable groups remain unprotected.
With increasing social gatherings, greater population mobility, and large festivals and sports tournaments taking place in the coming days and weeks, WHO/Europe calls for caution @hans_kluge
— WHO/Europe (@WHO_Europe) June 10, 2021
“We have been here before,” warned Dr Kluge. “Over the course of last summer, cases gradually rose in younger age groups and then moved into older age groups, contributing to a devastating resurgence.”
Dr Kluge said that the spike in Covid-19 cases ultimately led to more lockdowns and deaths in the autumn and winter of 2020. “Let’s not make that mistake again,” he said.
He did not say people should not travel, but urged any travellers to do so wisely.
He also called for vaccination and other public health measures to be stepped up across the continent, saying even immunisation coverage “is far from sufficient to protect the region”.