(CN) — It's turning into the summer Europeans didn't want: One overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
With the pandemic accelerating elsewhere in the world, Europe's hopes of enjoying a summer free from the threat of the novel coronavirus is in jeopardy as several countries begin to report a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
The flare-up in Europe, the epicenter of the pandemic between February and May, is prompting officials to take swift action to contain its spread, including through travel bans, quarantines, mandatory mask wearing and the closing of nightlife venues.
Over the weekend, Brits vacationing in Spain were taken aback and angered by an announcement from their government that they would have to go into two weeks of quarantine upon their arrival home because of an alarming rise in infections in Spain
But it's not just Spain where the virus is on the rise. Throughout Europe, cases — though not deaths — are showing signs of surging and officials in France, Germany, Italy and Belgium are taking more aggressive actions to contain the virus before it can dangerously spread uncontrolled again.
The spike in cases in Europe adds to the grim global picture of an accelerating pandemic and underscores how difficult it is for countries that have overcome the worst of an outbreak to continue to suppress the respiratory virus. The situation in Europe also foreshadows the difficulties and challenges the United States may face even after it has gotten its outbreak under control.
At a news briefing on Monday, officials with the World Health Organization acknowledged the dilemmas nations are facing in both reopening their societies and stamping out the virus. Similar to Europe, Asian nations and Australia are seeing the number of cases rise too.
“It was always likely that when societies opened up, when mobility increased, that we were going to see disease return in one form or another — sporadic cases or clusters,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO chief of emergencies.
He said the real test for nations will be in responding quickly and surgically to outbreaks.
“What you're really trying to do is to ensure small numbers of cases and clusters don't reignite sustained and efficient community transmission,” he said.
He said nations can avoid crippling outbreaks and the need for new nationwide lockdowns by ensuring there is “a seamless relationship” between a national strategy and giving local authorities the flexibility to take targeted actions.
“That may be the future,” he said. “We may be in a situation where we're having to react to cases and clusters, we may see community transmission emerge from some of those clusters, and we have to shut down or pull back on mobility and mixing in those local areas.”
Ryan said the key to preventing widespread and uncontrolled transmission is having a handle on who has been infected through testing and tracking down those who may be infected.
“The more we have a microscope on the virus, the much more precise we can be in surgically removing that virus from our communities,” he said. “But if we don't know where the virus is, if we just have this broad community transmission, then we have to take very broad-based measures and in that situation that hurts the economy.”
These difficult choices facing nations was seen in the United Kingdom's quarantine order, which was viewed by many as too hasty and drastic.
After months spent in lockdown to fight Europe's worst outbreak, thousands of Brits headed for Spain, a favorite summertime destination, only to see their vacations upended by the quarantine order issued Saturday night. Brits were forced to cancel their beloved Spanish vacations — some got straight back onto airplanes to spend the rest of their vacation in quarantine at home, while others vowed they would disregard the quarantine rule.