‘Alarming’ U.K. virus variant needs bolder response: WHO

People wearing masks walking along OxfordStreet in London.  

The World Health Organization’s European branch on Thursday said more needed to be done to deal with the alarming situation brought on by a recently discovered variant of the novel coronavirus.

The WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, called the current situation “a tipping-point in the course of the pandemic”.

“This is an alarming situation, which means that for a short period of time we need to do more than we have done and to intensify the public health and social measures to be certain we can flatten the steep vertical line in some countries,” Mr. Kluge said, referring primarily to the new variant first discovered in the U.K..

While it is natural for viruses to change over time and the variant is not believed to cause more severe symptoms, its “increased transmissibility” still raises concerns, according to WHO Europe. “Without increased control to slow its spread, there will be an increased impact on already stressed and pressurised health facilities,” Mr. Kluge said.