About 159,000 more people in 24 European states have died since early March than would have ordinarily been expected, Reuters reported referring to a World Health Organization (WHO) official.

According to the official, European deaths spike since March is linked to COVID-19.

To date, over 2 million people in Europe have contracted COVID-19. The death toll has exceeded 175,000.

While the excess mortality rate addresses all causes of mortality, a WHO emergency official Katie Smallwood said the death toll indicates the lethal effect of COVID-19. 

“What we have seen very clearly is that the peak in excess mortality corresponds in those countries to the peak of the transmission of COVID-19,” Smallwood told reporters.

“This gives us a very good indication that a very significant proportion of this excess deaths is linked and due to COVID-19.”

According to her, countries such as Germany, Switzerland, and others that can ease restrictions should have reliable systems for detecting, testing, and tracking diseases to prevent a potential "second wave".

“Opening businesses, or clubs (and) bars, where people do come together will absolutely have to depend on a very strong ability of the health system to know how the virus is transmitting, where it is transmitting...and ensure that targeted interventions to prevent and break any transmission of the virus can be put in place,” Smallwood said.