Nov 5, 2021 - Health

WHO: Europe is again at epicenter of pandemic

Hans Kluge, European director of World Health Organization (WHO), attends a press conference in Rome, Italy, on February 26

World Health Organization European director Hans Kluge. Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Europe is "back at the epicenter of the pandemic" and approaching record COVID-19 case numbers as the Delta variant spreads and vaccination efforts stall in several regions, a top World Health Organization official warned Thursday.

The big picture: Germany reported Thursday its highest number of new coronavirus infections in one day since the pandemic began (33,949). New cases across Europe have risen 55% in the past four weeks, per WHO European director Hans Kluge. "We are at another critical point of pandemic resurgence," he warned.

  • There had been 1.8 million new infections and some 24,000 deaths in the European region in the past week alone, Kluge said.
  • "If we stay on this trajectory, we could see another half a million COVID-19 deaths in Europe and Central Asia by the first of February next year — and 43 countries in our region will face high to extreme stress on hospital beds at some point through the same period," he added.

Of note: "While eight countries have now exceeded 70% coverage, in two countries the rate remains below 10%," Kluge said.

  • "Where vaccine uptake is low — in many countries in the Baltics, central and eastern Europe, and the Balkans — hospital admission rates are high."
  • He noted that along with rapid, widespread vaccination, "testing, contact tracing, ventilation in indoor spaces and physical distancing remain part of our arsenal of defenses."

The bottom line: "We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of Covid-19 to preventing them from happening in the first place," Kluge said.

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