The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a 53-country region in Europe and Central Asia are facing the real threat of a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in the coming weeks and are likely to see about 500,000 additional deaths before February 1.
Hospitalization rates due to COVID-19 in the region more than doubled over the last week.
Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said Europe and Central Asia can save up to 188,000 lives of half a million if 95 per cent of people wear masks.
“We are at another critical point of pandemic resurgence. Europe is back at the epicentre of the pandemic, where we were one year ago,” WHO’s Europe head Hans Kluge told reporters from the WHO Europe headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Kluge said case counts are beginning to near-record levels again and the pace of transmission in the region, which stretches as far east as the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, is of “grave concern.”
European countries must work harder to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further as deaths and new cases surge, Kluge added. 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.
WHO Europe has said that the region saw nearly 1.8 million new weekly Covid-19 cases, an increase of about 6 per cent from the previous week, and 24,000 deaths in the same period or a 12 per cent rise.