The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge on Thursday called on young people to “spread fun, not the virus” as the number of COVID-19 infections steadily rise in the region by 26,000 daily.
Referencing a recent global study among those aged 15 to 24, Kluge pointed out during a press conference here that cases of COVID-19 have increased from a rate of 4.5 percent in that age group at the end of February to 15 percent in mid-July.
“Low risk does not mean no risk. No one is invincible and if you do not die from COVID-19, it may stick with your body like a tornado with a long tail,” said Kluge.
The director’s message comes as a second wave of infections gathers pace after the lull in infections during May and June.
“Every day now the European Region reports an average of over 26,000 new COVID-19 cases. This is due in part to the relaxation of public health and social measures, where authorities have been easing some of the restrictions and people have been dropping their guard,” said the WHO official.
The European Region currently has a registered total of 3.9 million cases, corresponding to 17 percent of the global total.
“Young people are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response, they are less likely to die than older people, but they can still be very seriously affected,” said Kluge.
Further concern over the safety of the young was the announcement that the WHO European Regional Office would be convening a virtual meeting for all 53 European countries on the re-opening of schools and COVID-19 on Aug. 31 “where concrete actions will be discussed to ensure children receive proper education in safe settings.”
Kluge also praised the many countries in the region that had become “smarter” by “targeting the virus instead of targeting society” and localizing shutdowns.
“We are learning how to apply smart, time-limited and risk-based measures, capable of reducing both the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the wider society and economy,” he said. “We manage the virus and keep the economy running and an education system in operation.”