'Grave concern': WHO warns of rising pace of COVID transmission in Europe
However, he said the difference now is that health authorities know more about the virus and have better tools to combat it.
Expressing “grave concern” over the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned that the region could see another half a million deaths by early next year. “The current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge was quoted as saying at a press conference. One reliable projection would mean “another half a million COVID-19 deaths,” by February if the current trajectory continued, he added, AFP reported.
The WHO’s European Region spans 53 countries and territories and includes several nations in Central Asia. With 78 million cases in the WHO's European region -- which spans 53 countries and territories and includes several nations in Central Asia -- the cumulative toll now exceeded that of South East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, the Western Pacific, and Africa combined, the organisation said.
“We are, once again, at the epicentre,” Kluge further added. The increases were observed “across all age groups,” he said. He reportedly blamed the soaring caseload on “insufficient vaccination coverage” and “the relaxation of public health and social measures.”
However, he said the difference now is that health authorities know more about the virus and have better tools to combat it. Relaxed prevention measures and low vaccination rates in some areas explain the latest surge, he said.
Measures like testing, tracing, physical distancing and the use of face masks were still part of the "arsenal" in fighting the virus.
"We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of Covid-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place," Kluge said.
WHO's headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday reported that cases had risen in Europe for the fifth consecutive week, making it the only world region where Covid-19 is still increasing. The infection rate was by far the highest in Europe, which reported some 192 new cases per 100,000 people, according to official country data compiled by AFP.