LONDON — The World Health Organization said Tuesday that coronavirus cases have tripled across Europe in the past six weeks, accounting for nearly half of all infections globally. While hospitalization rates have doubled in Europe, the number of intensive care admissions has remained relatively low.
In a statement on Tuesday, WHO’s Europe director, Dr. Hans Kluge, described COVID-19 as “a nasty and potentially deadly illness” that people should not underestimate. He claimed that Omicron variant super-infectious relatives are driving disease waves across Europe and repeat infections could possibly lead to Long CoVID.
WHO stated that there were 53 European countries with coronavirus infection. This region stretches from central Asia to Europe. It also reported about 3 million cases of the virus last week. About 3,000 new infections per week. Globally, the number of cases due to COVID-19 has increased over five weeks despite countries reducing testing.
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“With rising cases, we’re also seeing a rise in hospitalizations, which are only set to increase further in the autumn and winter months,” Kluge said. “This forecast presents a huge challenge to the health workforce in country after country, already under enormous pressure dealing with unrelenting crises since 2020.”
Earlier this week, editors of two British medical journals said the country’s National Health Service has never before had so many parts of the system so close to collapsing.
Kamran Abbasi, of the BMJ, and Alastair McClellan from the Health Service Journal wrote together that the U.K government failed to address the persistent problems made worse by COVID. This included ambulances queuing outside of hospitals to receive new patients.
They slammed the government’s insistence that vaccines have broken the link between infections and hospitalizations. Even though vaccines significantly reduce the chance of death and severe diseases, there has been no significant reduction in transmission.
“The government must stop gaslighting the public and be honest about the threat the pandemic still poses to them and the National Health Service,” the editors wrote.
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WHO’s fall strategy for COVID-19 was released Tuesday. A second dose of vaccine booster should be given to children aged 5 years and older who have weak immune systems. The U.N. agency recommended that masks are worn indoors, on public transport, and in offices.
Kluge reported that countries in the Southern Hemisphere were experiencing an active flu season, which, along with COVID was straining their health systems.
“We are likely to see a similar scenario in the Northern Hemisphere,” Kluge said, warning that increased pressure could lead to business, travel and school chaos.
He encouraged people to take their own decision, even in places where coronavirus restrictions have been largely removed by authorities.
“We’re all aware of the tools we have to keep ourselves safe, assess our level of risk and take the necessary steps to protect others if we get infected,” Kluge said. “Just because a mask isn’t mandated doesn’t mean it’s prohibited.”
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