WHO warns Europe of dramatic winter

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Hundreds of thousands more people in Europe could die in connection with Covid 19 disease by spring 2022, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO expects extreme strains on hospitals in large parts of Europe. The organization also stressed Tuesday that in addition to vaccination, hygiene and spacing rules must remain part of everyday life in the long term.

Intensive care units in 49 of 53 countries in the region are expected to face a high or extreme burden between Tuesday and March 1 next year, WHO Europe warned. Based on current trends, the total number of reported coronavirus deaths is estimated to rise to more than 2.2 million by next spring, it said – just surpassing the 1.5 million mark.

This can be prevented with immediate action, the Copenhagen-based organization said. Universal mask-wearing alone could prevent an estimated 160,000-plus deaths by March 1, 2022, according to a study.

Other measures besides vaccination
“To live with this virus and continue our daily lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach,” WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge urged. That means, he said, not just getting the usual doses of vaccine against Covid-19 and taking up booster shots when offered.

At the same time, he said, people need to incorporate simple preventive measures into their normal routines, such as wearing mouth-nose protection, washing their hands, keeping their distance and ventilating indoor spaces.

Three factors behind new wave
WHO Europe sees three factors behind the current rise in new infections in many places: first, the highly contagious delta variant dominates in the Region. Second, countries have signaled to their populations in recent months that covid-19 is no longer an emergency threat and have relaxed measures such as mandatory masking. Third, many people remain vulnerable to the virus because large numbers are still unvaccinated.

53 countries in WHO European Region
The WHO counts 53 countries in the European region, including not only the EU but also countries further east such as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. 53.5 percent of the people in this region have been fully vaccinated so far – but there are sometimes large differences among the individual countries.

  • source: ORF.at/picture:pixabay.com
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