WHO Europe head urges social distancing over holidays in virus fight

Europeans were urged to maintain social distancing and limit social contacts during the upcoming holiday season to stem the second wave of coronavirus that has taken a toll on mental health.

The Head of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European office, Hans Kluge gave the advice on Friday in Copenhagen.

Kluge noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 500,000 virus-related deaths and 23 million infections in the region.

The pandemic has also wrecked livelihoods and has had other negative impacts.

“From anxieties around virus transmission, the psychological impact of lockdowns and self-isolation, to the effects of unemployment, financial worries and social exclusion, the mental health impact of the pandemic will be long term and far-reaching,’’ he said.

Almost one, in five health care , is suffering from anxiety and depression.

Possible means of reducing “anxiety or depression included getting out into nature (where permitted), keeping active, to structuring and planning your days’’.

Authorities were also urged to increase funding to mental health services amid an expected rise in the need for such specialised care.

While people were urged to stay at home and maintain physical distance, Kluge said they have “an opportunity to connect and care,’’ citing social networking tools. (dpa/)

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