Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far, and 46% of all the global cases were from the European region accounting for nearly one-third of all deaths, the two top World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Monday.
"There's no question that the European region is an epicenter for disease right now," said Mike Ryan, the director of WHO's emergency response program, who was speaking at a twice-weekly webinar from the global headquarters of the world health body.
The WHO official noted that the European area extends from Vladivostok in Russia's Far East to Reykjavik in Iceland in the west and is a broader conceptual footprint than the European Union.
"Right now, we're well behind this virus in Europe, so getting ahead of it is going to take some, some serious acceleration on what we do, and maybe much more comprehensive nature of measures that are going to be needed to catch up with and get ahead of this virus.
"It may require further sacrifice for many, many people in terms of personal lives," said Ryan.
He explained that there's a lot of free movement, and therefore, it may require shutting down and restricting movement and having to stay at home orders to take the heat out of the pandemic's current phase.
Earlier, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said, "Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far.
"Many countries in the northern hemisphere are seeing a concerning rise in cases and hospitalizations. And intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America," said Tedros.
The world must do all it can to protect health workers, and the best way to do that is for each person to take every precaution to reduce the risk of transmission for themselves and others.
"No one wants more so-called lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part," said Tedros.
He said the fightback against the pandemic is everyone's business.
"We cannot have the economic recovery we want and live our lives the way we did before the pandemic.
"We can keep our kids in school; we can keep businesses open; we can preserve lives and livelihoods. We can do it! But we must all make trade-offs, compromises, and sacrifices," said the WHO chief.
He said that when leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed.
"But, where there has been political division at the national level; where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread, and cases and deaths have mounted," said Tedros.
According to US-based Johns Hopkins University, the world has 43.23 million virus cases and 1,156,212 deaths.
The US is hardest-hit country with 8,661,917 cases and 225,379 deaths