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Source: Red Cross Red Crescent –

Photo: French Red Cross

Budapest/Geneva, 14 October 2020 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging European governments and its citizens to simultaneously exercise leadership and remain vigilant as COVID-19 ravages the region.

More than seven million people have tested positive for COVID-19 across Europe, and 41 of 54 European countries have recorded a more than 10 per cent increase in positive cases compared to two weeks ago. In 23 of those countries, the increase in cases reached more than 50 per cent.[1]

“Almost 250,000 people in Europe have lost their lives due to COVID19. Every death is a tragedy, and we must all work together to try and stop further deaths. 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. Hard choices now will pay off in the coming weeks. Protect yourself to protect others. Until this storm passes – and it will – your best defence against this virus is you,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, Head of the IFRC for Europe.

Dr Emanuele Capobianco, 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. We know it is a very difficult moment which requires difficult decisions: solving the health crisis will help solve the economic and social one.

“We owe it to the hundreds of thousands of front-line workers and citizens who are confronting this pandemic with great commitment and spirit of sacrifice. We can still turn this tide if we act courageously in this moment,” continued Dr Capobianco.

Across the continent, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams continue to play their part in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and meeting the evolving needs of vulnerable communities:

  • In the UK, British Red Cross volunteers are responding to a shift in the type of calls to their free COVID-19 support line – with the public increasingly seeking emotional support and help with complex needs.
  • The situation is similar for the Italian Red Cross, where psychologists taking calls from the public via their toll-free number say common themes are loneliness, fear and shame of asking for help. Youth volunteers with the Italian Red Cross are also reaching out to young people in the country to explain the importance of personal protective measures and offering peer support.
  • The Netherlands Red Cross is supporting thousands of people who no longer have enough money to buy groceries through the provision of food vouchers, which will cover one meal per day over the coming months.
  • In Spain there’s been a huge response from young Red Cross volunteers, where more than 21,000 young people are helping the most vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19 by distributing food to people at home, accompanying the elderly, transferring patients and supporting families with educational help and resources for children
  • And in south-east France, which has been hit by recent severe flooding, in a partnership between the city of Arras and the Red Cross of Pas-de-Calais rescuers have taken to the streets of the city centre to remind people of the importance of COVID-19 safety measures. French Red Cross first aid workers have also been in primary and nursery schools talking to children about the importance of COVID-19 protections.

“Months into this pandemic, we know 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,” Ms Ebbesen ended.

[1] Source: World Health Organization

In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, corinne.ambler@ifrc.org

Susan Cullinan, +36 705 070 131, susan.cullinan@ifrc.org

In Geneva:
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, tommaso.dellalonga@ifrc.org    

Rebecca Cole, +41 79 245 5680, rebecca.cole@ifrc.org

Katie Wilkes, +1 312 952 2270, RRCommunication.GVA@ifrc.org

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