Despite progress in several European countries to slow the expansion of coronavirus, there is a “high risk of a new resurgence in the first weeks of 2021”.
The European region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Europe is at “high risk” of suffering a new wave of coronavirus infections in the first weeks and months of 2021, and has therefore advised the population, in view of the Christmas holidays, to wear masks at family gatherings.
“Despite some fragile advances, the transmission of coronavirus in Europe remains widespread and intense. There is a high risk of a new resurgence in the first weeks and months of 2021, so we will have to work together if we want to be successful in preventing it”, they said from the agency.
For this reason, WHO has stressed the need for all citizens to fulfil their obligation to avoid a new resurgence of cases and to “not underestimate” the importance of their decisions because they can influence the future evolution of the pandemic. However, and despite the risks, the United Nations agency has recalled that there are some simple steps that society can take to ensure that Christmas is celebrated in the “safest” possible way.
In particular, WHO have advised to postpone or reduce religious celebrations and Christmas markets in countries with widespread community transmission, while stressing the importance of holding them outdoors in those countries with the lowest rate of contagion, ensuring physical detachment, hand hygiene and the use of masks.
At the meetings, even the smaller ones, WHO has recalled that they can be especially “dangerous” because they bring together groups of people, young and old, from different households who may not all be following the same infection prevention measures.
“Meetings should be held outdoors, if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distance. If carried out indoors, it is essential to limit the size of the group and ensure good ventilation to reduce the risk of exposure. It can be uncomfortable to wear masks and practice physical distancing when you are with friends and family, but doing so contributes significantly to ensuring everyone stays safe and healthy”, they stressed.
With regard to travel, the agency has recommended avoiding any means of transport that may be “overcrowded”, as well as following the recommendations of the health authorities, pointing out that they should limit, postpone or cancel mass meetings in the current European transmission context.
Finally, WHO has asked countries to adapt the configuration of ski-related activities to eliminate the possibility of overcrowding, especially in the interior”. Skiing does not spread coronavirus, but the crowded mountain resorts do. While marking this year’s holiday may seem different, we can still make the most of it. We wish everyone a happy and peaceful winter break. Be safe and stay healthy”, he said.