"It may be summer, but the pandemic is far from over. Pandemic fatigue has taken a toll on our collective mental health, and it is only natural that people want to relax after what has been a challenging time for everybody," he pointed out. "However, we were in this position last summer. When restrictions were eased too quickly we saw a devastating rise in cases and deaths across the Region that led us back into lockdowns," Kluge added.
"Now, after over a year of pressure on our health systems, schooling, livelihoods, economies, physical and mental health, we cannot afford to make the same mistake," Kluge emphasized.
He noted that "although vaccination continues apace" across Europe, "a large proportion of the population remains unvaccinated, while highly transmissible variants of concern are circulating". "At the same time, we are seeing an easing of public health and social measures leading to an increase in COVID-19 cases; where vaccination rates are not high, especially among the most vulnerable, that translates into increased hospitalizations, stretched health systems - and lost lives," the WHO regional director for Europe stressed.