WHO Europe warns of ‘difficult’ Covid-19 autumn and winter – Manila Bulletin
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The European office of the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday of a “difficult” autumn and winter amid a summer surge in Covid-19 cases and reduced surveillance among Member States.
The warning was accompanied by a call from the health body for countries to “urgently close gaps in pandemic surveillance and response to avoid preventable deaths and severe disruption”.
“This time last year, I told you about a new wave of Covid-19 sweeping the region, driven by the Delta variant amid lifting restrictions and increasing social mixing,” he said. WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said in a statement. statement.
“It is now abundantly clear that we are in a similar situation to last summer – except this time the current wave of Covid-19 is being driven by sub-lines of the Omicron variant,” a- he added.
The rapid increase in cases coupled with “reduced viral surveillance” prompted the organization to “predict a difficult autumn and winter in the European Region”.
It also prompted the publication of a Covid-19 strategy for the fall and winter, “to help prepare for the next waves of infection”.
“Waiting until fall to act will be too late,” Kluge said.
The strategy pushes for an increase in vaccination in the general population, a second booster dose for immunocompromised people, a possible second booster for specific risk groups and the use of face masks indoors and in public transports.
Kluge said the number of new infections in the WHO European zone – 53 countries and regions, including several in Central Asia – had tripled in the past six weeks.
The region has recorded 2,585,734 cases in the past seven days.
The organization noted that while hospitalization rates had doubled over the same period, admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) had “so far remained relatively low”.
“However, while infection rates in older age groups continue to rise, Europe still sees almost 3,000 people die from Covid-19 every week,” Kluge pointed out.
Last week, WHO Europe recommended a second booster shot of a Covid vaccine for people over 60.
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