The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office said up to half of coronavirus deaths across the region have been in nursing homes, calling it an “unimaginable tragedy.”
In a press briefing on Thursday, WHO Europe director Dr. Hans Kluge said a “deeply concerning picture” was emerging of the impact of COVID-19 on long-term homes for the elderly, where care has “often been notoriously neglected.” Kluge said health workers in such facilities were often overworked and underpaid and called for them to be given more protective gear and support, describing them as the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic.
Kluge said that while the coronavirus outbreaks in some European countries appear to be stabilizing or decreasing, the pandemic was far from over.
Kluge also noted that about half of the global burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths are in Europe and that in the last week, numbers have increased in the east, citing Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. He said WHO was soon sending teams to Belarus, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to boost their control efforts.