The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) regional director, Hans Kluge on Thursday warned EU nations against shortening the two-week quarantine period, as the continent is reporting “alarming rates of transmission” of the virus.
“Knowing the immense individual and societal impact even a slight reduction in the length of quarantine can have … I encourage countries of the region to make scientific due process with their experts and explore safe reduction options,” Kluge said during an online press conference from Copenhagen.
He added that strict lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic had paid off, while now weekly cases exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March.
“In June cases hit an all-time low. The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” WHO’s regional director said, adding that more than half of EU countries had noted a rise in infections greater than 10% in the past two weeks.
Kluge stressed that countries could only reduce the quarantine period if it is scientifically justified, with Katie Smallwood, the organisation’s senior health emergency officer saying that “We would only revise that on a basis of a change in our understanding of the science, and so far that’s not the case.”
She added that “a 14-day quarantine is important for patients that have been exposed to the virus.”
WHO’s call came a day after Europe’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the EU/EEA area and in the UK citing it had been on the rise for more than 50 days in a row.