Europe has been dealing with a new spike in coronavirus cases due to reopening and loosening of restrictions too soon, an official with the World Health Organization said.

Why it matters: The BA.2 variant — a subvariant of the omicron variant — has been running rapidly through Europe, worrying experts that the variant will spread to the United States.

Driving the news: Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said Tuesday that the coronavirus has been rising in 18 European countries because of lifted COVID-19 restrictions, per CNN.

  • Kluge said that Europe lifted restrictions “brutally, from too much to too few.”
  • He said that he is “optimistic, but vigilant” about the state of the pandemic.

The bigger picture: Europe has seen a COVID-19 outbreak in recent weeks, raising questions about why COVID-19 is spreading so fast after a brief lull period without many cases, as I reported for the Deseret News.

What they’re saying: Experts said the COVID-19 outbreak will likely spread to the United States.

  • “Why wouldn’t it come here? Are we vaccinated enough? I don’t know,” Kimberly Prather, a professor of atmospheric chemistry and an expert on aerosol transmission at the University of California at San Diego, told The Washington Post.
  • “So I’m wearing my mask still. … I am the only person indoors, and people look at me funny, and I don’t care.”
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser on the coronavirus, said the outbreak has been linked to the BA.2 becoming more transmissible and because society is opening up more.