World Health Organization warns of a 'serious situation unfolding amid ''alarming rates' of infections

World Health Organization regional director for Europe Hans Kluge has warned that the situation in Europe is as bad as it was at the height of the pandemic

World Health Organization regional director for Europe Hans Kluge has warned that the situation in Europe is as bad as it was at the height of the pandemic

Kluge said his decision to wear a mask was "a clear signal that we are going into a worsening situation" with the coronavirus in WHO Europe's 53-country region.

In France, people who have been exposed must self-isolate for seven days, but in the United Kingdom and Ireland the suggested time is 10 days.

The WHO warned The European countries against shortening quarantine periods, taking into account the alarmingly rising rates of infections.

In Greece, which emerged largely unscathed from the first wave of COVID-19 which hit Europe in March and April, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government was ready to tighten restrictions in the greater Athens area as cases accelerated.

Kluge spoke as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the globe approached 30 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins.

Epidemiologists are blaming the spike on both faster circulation of the virus and a six-fold increase in testing, which is now free.

However, he acknowledged that Europeans were experiencing COVID-19 "fatigue", but recommended authorities to "focus on reducing harm, where and when possible".

"Engage the youth in finding new and safe ways to be social", Kluge said.

The Spanish capital of Madrid said it had been overwhelmed by the virus and called for "decisive" action from the central government, which is set to unveil a raft of new restrictions Friday.

"This is really worrying because as we hit the flu season - as we start to see other viruses circulating, respiratory viruses circulating - it's very hard to distinguish Covid from flu from other respiratory pathogens that are circulating", Kerkhove said.

"We're anxious that these increasing numbers of hospitalizations and ICU are really going to overburden an already burdened system", Van Kerkhove said.

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The seven-day moving average of daily new infections has risen to more than 9,300, compared to a low of 272 at the end of May.

They have come into force in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham. Hancock told Parliament that residents would be banned from socialising with others outside their households or support bubbles.

Nightspots will have to shut early by 10pm (2100 GMT).

But he added: "We must follow the data and act, and the data says that we must act now".

US President Donald Trump contradicted Dr Robert Redfield, his own appointee to head the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that a Covid vaccine would probably only become "generally available to the American public" in the "late second quarter, third quarter 2021".

She also warned leaders not to heed public pressures to ease lockdown measures if track and trace systems and hospital resources are still falling short.

More than half of the countries in the region have seen infections rise by more than 10 percent in the past two weeks, according to the WHO.

The sharp increase is a result of a higher infection rate but also of a massive increase in testing.

"We're adding about 1.8 to two million cases per week to the global case count, and an average somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 deaths", World Health Organization emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference. Another 96,000 were reported on Friday, raising the south Asian country's total beyond 5.2 million.

More than 942,000 people worldwide have died from the virus. The caseload in seven countries has doubled in the past two weeks, he said.

Eikon users, see MacroVitals cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

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