WHO calls for ‘boldest actions’ from all European countries over virus

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office for Europe on Tuesday said there is a need for bold measures in all European countries, calling the continent the “epicentre” of the new coronavirus pandemic.

“Every country, with no exceptions, needs to take their boldest actions to stop or slow down the virus threat,” Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, told a press conference.

“Thinking that ‘this does not concern me,’ is not an option,” Kluge said.

Kluge also said that the “good news” was that the region was “alert and on guard,” noting that “preparedness-, readiness- and response measures” had been launched in all member states.

Since the virus first emerged in late December, 7,408 people have died around the world, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 180,000 cases had been confirmed worldwide on Tuesday.

The regional WHO director said that countries need to assess their own situation in order to decide which measures should be emphasised, as the outbreak is progressing at different speeds in different countries.

WHO Europe includes 53 countries as diverse as Russia and Andorra, Germany and Tajikistan.

On Tuesday the outer borders of the 27-nation European Union and its Schengen passport free zone closed for 30 days.

Faced with the “defining global health crisis of our time”, the WHO on Monday called for testing of every suspected case of the new coronavirus. (AFP)