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Red Cross raises virus alarm across Europe

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GENEVA

The Red Cross on Wednesday raised the alarm for Europe urging governments and citizens to simultaneously exercise leadership and remain vigilant as COVID-19 ravages the region

The Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said that more than seven million people have tested positive for the coronavirus across Europe.

It said that 41 of 54 European countries have recorded a jump of 10% in positive cases over the past two weeks. In 23 of those countries, the increase in cases reached more than 50%.

“Almost 250,000 people in Europe have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Every death is a tragedy, and we must all work together to try and stop further deaths,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, the head of the Red Cross for Europe.

“We need to take collective action and make the right choices now. Keep physical distance, avoid crowds and parties, wear a mask, wash your hands, and isolate yourself if ill,” Ebbesen added.

In Switzerland, the Federal Office of Public Health said that the number of COVID-19 cases had leaped to 2,823 cases over the past 24 hours.

Noting that the positivity rate was determined at 13.6%, it said eight people died of the virus over the past day.

“Until this storm passes — and it will — your best defense against this virus is you,” said Ebbesen.

She said that months into this pandemic, communities across Europe are craving a return to normality.

“But the figures confirm we are not out of the woods yet, and as we head towards winter, it is more important than ever that we remain socially close while staying physically distant,” she said.

Dr. Emanuele Capobianco, the head of Health and Care of IFRC, said: “We would not be fulfilling our humanitarian obligation if we did not sound the alarm in this dire moment of the pandemic’s trajectory.”

“We ask governments to act with speed, courage, and inclusiveness: to step up protective measures without delay, follow scientific evidence and recommendations and support the most vulnerable who are being affected by both the virus and its heavy socio-economic impact,” Capobianco said.

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