A recent and steep rise in COVID-19 cases has one European Union official worried that the bloc’s economic recovery from the pandemic could be in danger, the Associated Press reported.
Two weeks ago, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni adjusted the growth forecast to reflect positive projections for an economic rebound. Gentiloni’s message was less hopeful Wednesday when he said that the encouraging prediction was now in doubt as infection rates grow and some member nations are imposing restrictions to curb the spread.
That forecast, which projected a 5 percent growth this year among the 19-nation eurozone that uses the one euro currency, might be impacted amid the boost in infections as the year comes to a close, the AP reported.
“Our only message is: Take the situation very seriously, but without thinking that the economic impact will be the same one as one year ago,” Gentiloni said.
In a report released Wednesday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said that the impact from the highly contagious Delta variant “is expected to be very high in December and January” unless vaccination rates increase and governments act drastically to contain the surge, according to the AP.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
Medical experts warned of more hardship ahead and called for urgent measures that could impact crucial sectors like the restaurant, bar and tourism industries, already badly hit by the virus last year.
It all goes against initial expectations for the holiday season when it was thought that Europeans unburdened by COVID-19 restrictions would dip into their forced savings of the past year and spend, giving the economy a major shot in the arm.
Now, the ECDC warned, “the end-of-year festive season is traditionally associated with activities such as social gatherings, shopping and traveling, which pose significant additional risks for intensified transmission of Delta.”
ECDC Director Andrea Ammon spoke of health systems already being overwhelmed in some EU nations, and others being close to it. “We have to take it now really serious in the sense that measures have to be applied in order to reduce transmission.”
In the past though, this has meant lockdowns and wholesale closures of businesses that were responsible for the unprecedented economic slump.
Ammon was addressing everything from less intrusive measures such as mandatory mask wearing or remote work to lockdowns.
“We still have some time until Christmas,” Ammon said. “But if the situation doesn’t get better, it might mean that these measures should be taken over Christmas as well.”
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