'The risk is now reality': Dozens of European countries see rise in COVID-19 cases amid fears of second wave

25 June 2020, North Rhine-Westphalia, Oelde: A member of the Bundeswehr takes a smear test on a woman at a corona smear site in Oelde. Because of the corona outbreak at the meat producer Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, many people from the area cannot easily escape on holiday: In several popular regions at home and abroad, negative tests are being demanded of them. Photo: Guido Kirchner/dpa (Photo by Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Countries such as Germany have responded quickly to fresh COVID-19 outbreaks, WHO Europe said. (Guido Kirchner via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a dire warning about a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Europe after countries began to lift their lockdowns.

Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe, said the risk of easing restrictions “has now become a reality” after 30 countries reported increased COVID-19 infections in the last two weeks.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Kluge said: “Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months. For weeks I have spoken about the risk of resurgence as countries adjust measures.

“In several countries across Europe, this risk has now become a reality. Thirty countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks.

Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe, said the risk of easing restrictions 'has now become a reality'. (WHO Europe)
Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe, said the risk of easing restrictions 'has now become a reality'. (WHO Europe)

“In 11 of these countries, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe.”

Kluge said many “new clusters of cases” have been controlled with “targeted interventions”.

He reiterated the importance of contact tracing, which he called “the only way we have to minimise transmission”.

“Trace and quarantine every contact,” he warned.

It comes after the WHO said on Wednesday that it expects one million global new cases within the next week.

Director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was a “sober reminder” of COVID-19’s continued prevalence, with overall infections set to surpass 10 million.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson announced the most significant easing of restrictions since the lockdown was imposed on 23 March.

A number of restrictions are set to be lifted in England from 4 July, with the prime minister saying he will take responsibility for a second wave of infections.

The PM said: “We are indebted to our scientific colleagues for their advice continually, but it is our responsibility to choose.”

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
How easing of lockdown rules affects you
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here
10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety
What to do if you think you have symptoms
How to get help if you've been furloughed