WHO says it is very worried about Covid surge in Europe

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is “very concerned” about the spread of COVID-19 in Europe as there has been an increase in cases and deaths ahead of the winter season.

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WHO regional director Dr Hans Kluge has warned that half a million more people could die from the virus by March if countries continue “business as usual”.

He said the dominance of the more permeable delta variant, along with the winter season, had raised the threat level, adding to the fact that many people are susceptible to the virus or lose protection as a result of the length of time. The time since his last jab.

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He said the virus was killing an average of one person every 15-20 minutes in the WHO European region, which covers the entire continent and includes some Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

“Covid-19 has once again become the number one cause of death in our region,” he told the BBC.

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Kluge said the spread can be tackled with measures including wearing masks, which can be done immediately, and increasing the vaccine.

He said countries should ensure there are no “access barriers” to vaccination.

Asked whether he thinks countries should implement compulsory vaccination, after Austria announced to do so from February next year, he said such a measure would be “something of a last resort”.

But he said the public’s attitude is “evolving” and it would be “timely” to have a public debate about such a measure.

Kluge said the COVID pass could be useful in slowing the spread, adding that it is “not a restriction of liberty, but a tool to preserve our personal liberty”.

The virus has seen a resurgence in Europe in recent weeks, with some countries rolling back restrictions that were lifted months ago. The WHO announced earlier this month that Europe was again at the epicenter of the pandemic.

In some Eastern European countries where the use of vaccines is low, new restrictions are being imposed on the unvaccinated, to boost virus deaths.

The Czech Republic has imposed an effective lockdown on unvaccinated people, while Slovakia has banned them from public gatherings and non-essential shops.

Austria – which is reporting five times more daily cases than last month – reimposed a complete lockdown yesterday, and Germany is considering following suit.

Plans for a partial lockdown and further restrictions in the Netherlands were met with violent riots in Rotterdam on Friday.

In the UK, where infections remain high but have not risen, the government is opposed to resuming measures and has not ruled out travel to the rest of Europe.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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