Despite the progress of the vaccination campaigns across Europe, the situation is not yet safe enough to resume international travel, according to Hans Kluge, the Regional Director of WHO Europe.
While the number of new confirmed infections in Europe has dropped from 1.7 million to nearly 685,000 cases per week since mid-April, the progress that we are making against the coronavirus remains “fragile,” he said during a press conference on Thursday.
“At this time, in the face of a continuing threat and new uncertainties, we must remain cautious and reconsider or avoid international travel,” Kluge added.
Vaccination has played an important role in the positive evolution of the figures, and on top of that, the vaccines are also proving effective against the mutations that are currently being identified.
“All virus variants of Covid-19 that have emerged so far respond to the available and approved vaccines,” he said, continuing to urge everyone to be cautious.
“Vaccines may be the light at the end of the tunnel, but we must not allow ourselves to be blinded by it,” Kluge said. “We have been through this before. Let us not make the same mistakes as last year. The pandemic is not over.”
In the coming months, increased mobility, physical interaction and meetings could lead to more infections in Europe, he stressed.
“If measures are relaxed – as is currently happening in most countries in the region – efforts in testing, isolation, contact tracing, quarantine and vaccination will have to be redoubled to maintain control and ensure that trends continue to decline,” Kluge said.
He also pointed out that the coronavirus has already killed 1.2 million people in Europe, which “corresponds to the population of Brussels.”
On Thursday, the Council updated its recommendation on easing restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers wanting to enter the EU from third countries.