The UK is among the three European nations reporting the highest number of new coronavirus cases, the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Russia currently holds the highest number of coronavirus cases in the continent and the second highest globally, with the country’s tally standing at 252,245 confirmed infections, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
The UK has seen the second highest number of infections in Europe and the third highest in the world with 230,985 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, Spain – now fourth highest in the world – has so far recorded 228,691 cases of infection, figures show.
In Europe alone there are 1.78 million confirmed cases, and 160,000 deaths across the continent, the WHO announced in a press conference on Thursday.
The UN health agency said the outbreak in the continent accounts for 43% of cases and 56% of deaths globally while the US has reported 1,390,764 cases, by far the largest number anywhere in the world.
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The WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that although the risk across all countries in the Europen remains very high, “it is in the east of the European region where we are seeing continued rising case counts.”
It follows Russia reporting it’s highest daily increase on Monday, confirming over 11,000 new cases in just 24 hours.
In his briefing, Kluge said that although pandemic was slowing, life on the continent had been “put on hold” and that “the future is uncertain” during “a time of sorrow”.
But he highlighted that the behaviour and responsibility of citizens in each country remained of paramount importance.
During a virtual WHO briefing he said: “Across the European region we’re seeing an overall slowing of the pandemic. But this remains a time of sorrow for many.
“We each have a role to play in keeping the virus at bay. We are now at a fork in the road – where our actions and individual behaviour determines which path we follow.”
But he cautioned: “Emergency fatigue threatens precious gains we have made against this virus.
“Reports of distrust in authorities and conspiracy thinking are fuelling movements against physical distancing, other people are behaving over-cautiously.
“Our behaviour today will set the course for the pandemic. As governments lift restrictions, you, the people, are the main actors.”
Kluge also outlined three important rules that that should be followed as the global pandemic continues to spread.
He urged national governments to remain vigilant, to listen and “adapt accordingly” to the concerns of the public and thirdly, for general populations to “behave responsibly” among high rates of infection.
Meanwhile, in England, restrictions on movement and social distancing were slightly eased on Wednesday.
Under new government rules, people are now allowed to take unlimited outdoor exercise and to sunbathe in public places.
They will are also able to meet one other person from another household in a public space, as long as the two-metre rule is respected
On Wednesday, the Department of Health said 33,186 COVID-19 patients had died – a rise of 494 from Tuesday’s death toll of 32,692.