Europe continues to report transmission of COVID-19, as of mid-July. Disease activity continues to fluctuate. In general, access to health services is appropriately managed with limited public health measures. Major disruptions to public health infrastructure have been largely contained. Some variations in risk are possible in the sub-region.
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Human-to-human transmission from infected individuals occurs primarily through respiratory droplets and, in some cases, short-range aerosols of one meter or through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Symptoms appear 1-14 days after exposure (average 3-7 days). These symptoms typically include fever, fatigue, and a dry cough; less common symptoms include headache, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, reddening of the eyes, rash, or discoloration of fingers or toes. Symptoms can worsen to difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and organ failure, especially in people with underlying chronic medical conditions. Some infected people have no symptoms. Several variants of COVID-19 have been identified around the world, some of which spread more easily between people. COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, although this distribution is uneven across countries, while other vaccines are in various stages of development and clinical trials; more data are needed to determine the duration of effectiveness of vaccines against COVID-19 variants.
The elderly and people of all ages with chronic illnesses or compromised immunity should consider postponing non-essential travel, including domestic travel, and take special precautions to avoid becoming ill, especially when transmission community support from COVID-19 is underway. All individuals should monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning from travel.
Insist on basic sanitation precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Practice good cough/sneeze etiquette (i.e. cover coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintain distance from others, and wash hands). There is no evidence that the flu shot, antibiotics, or antiviral medications prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of taking basic health precautions. People who feel sick or have symptoms should refrain from engaging publicly and consider self-isolating if possible.
Vaccinations against COVID-19 can increase protection against serious infections and all individuals, especially those at high risk, are encouraged to stay up to date with booster shots. Individuals should continue to adhere to national health and safety measures provided by their regulatory bodies.
WHO knowledge base on coronavirus
WHO: Public health considerations when resuming international travel
US CDC: Tips for Businesses and Workplaces
US CDC: Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Communities
Mental health considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak
US CDC: Managing Anxiety and Stress
New England Journal of Medicine: Frequently asked questions about the COVID vaccine