Europe

Coronavirus 'passed its peak' in 20 European countries

EU health agency says lifting containment measures too quickly risks a 'sudden resurgence'

A French Covid-19 patient.

The first wave of coronavirus transmission “has passed its peak” in 20 EU/EEA countries, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Thursday. However, the agency was quick in its latest risk assessment to caution against removing lockdowns too hastily.

“Lifting measures too quickly, without appropriate monitoring and health systems capacity in place, may cause sudden resurgence of sustained community transmission,” warned ECDC Director Andrea Ammon in a statement accompanying the new risk assessment. She endorsed the Commission’s road map for exiting containment measures.

Social distancing policies appear to be successfully reducing transmission. In the EU/EEA and U.K., 14-day incidence has declined by 18 percent since April 8, according to the Stockholm-based agency.

The risk of resurgence if those policies are phased out gradually is “moderate,” the ECDC said, and “very high” if they’re lifted without the proper precautions and health system readiness.

The risk of severe disease for people in the EU/EEA is “low” in areas with social distancing measures (but “moderate” for people with risk factors like age or underlying medical condition). In places that don’t have such policies or where community transmission is high, the severe disease risk is “moderate” for the general population and “very high” for those with risk factors.

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