WHO’s grim warning for Europe: Half a million COVID deaths likely by Feb

‘The current pace of transmission across 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern,’ WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said.

The European Region last week saw a 6 per cent spike in new cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday sounded out a sombre warning for Europe which is seeing a resurgence of COVID –  that it may see “another half a million COVID-19 deaths” by February if the current trajectory continued.

“The current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference. “We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of COVID-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place.”

The region last week saw a 6 per cent spike in new cases – pushed by the more transmissible Delta variant – of nearly 1.8 million new cases, compared to the week before. The number of deaths surged 12 per cent in the period.

Experts point out that European countries must work harder to prevent the coronavirus spreading further. “Today every single country in Europe and Central Asia is facing a real threat of COVID-19 resurgence or already fighting it,” Kluge said.

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According to the health organisation, with 78 million cases in the WHO’s European region, the cumulative toll now exceeded that of South East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, the Western Pacific, and Africa combined.

Kluge said increases were observed “across all age groups”, and the high caseload was down to “insufficient vaccination coverage and the relaxation of public health and social measures”.

“Hospital admission rates were higher in countries with lower vaccination rates,” he added.

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