- The World Health Organization’s office for Europe said Covid deaths could rise by 700,000 in the coming months.
- The 53-country region is facing a surge of infections that has led to a lockdown in Austria and a ban in the Netherlands. Germany is also taking tough measures.
- The WHO said that apart from vaccination, masks, physical distancing, testing and contact tracing are important to slow the spread.
Europe and Central Asia could reach a total of more than 2.2 million Covid-19 deaths by next March as countries grapple with the growth of the highly permeable delta variant, the World Health Organization’s office for the region wrote in a statement issued on Tuesday. Is.
The WHO’s Europe arm said the forecast for the coming months comes as the 53-nation region accounts for 1.5 million Covid deaths, with the virus now becoming the leading cause of death in both Europe and Central Asia. The region is currently facing around 4,200 deaths per day, which is double the daily deaths recorded at the end of September, the statement said.
The WHO regional office in Copenhagen, Denmark covers Europe as well as Israel, Turkey and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
“To live with this virus and continue with our daily lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach,” Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in the statement. “That means getting the standard dose of the vaccine, taking a booster if offered, as well as incorporating preventive measures into our normal routine.”
In addition to the increased infectivity of the Delta strain, the statement blamed the region’s growth on the continent’s uninfected population and the decision of many countries to wear masks and roll back social distancing. The WHO had previously warned that winter outbreaks in Europe could increase as people gather together indoors with poor ventilation, conditions that facilitate transmission of the virus.
For a “challenging winter”, Kluge called on the public to help survive the lockdown and disruption to the economy by wearing face coverings, physical distancing as well as taking precautions including testing and contact tracing. The statement also urged countries to consider giving booster doses to health care workers and anyone over the age of 60 to counter the declining effectiveness of available vaccines.
The WHO estimates that 49 of the 53 countries in the region may see high or extreme stress on their intensive care units between now and March 2022. High or extreme stress on hospital beds is estimated to affect 25 countries as well.
Infections in the region began to rise during the week ending September 19, when WHO researchers measured a total of about 1.1 million new cases over seven days. According to the WHO’s most recent weekly epidemiological update, the organization reported more than 2.4 million new cases as of the week ending November 21. This is about 67% of all COVID cases worldwide during that period.
Germany set a pandemic record on Monday with a seven-day average of more than 51,000 daily new cases, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. And Russia reported a record-high seven-day average of nearly 1,218 daily Covid deaths for the week ended Monday, Hopkins measured.
Chancellor Alexander Schalenberg implemented a nationwide vaccine mandate effective February 1 as infections in Austria began to rise, and on Monday began the country’s fourth lockdown. In Vienna the government said the lockdown would not last more than 20 days, The Netherlands also introduced a partial lockdown on Saturday, closing some businesses early and barring fans from attending sporting events for three weeks.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also called for tough measures to control the wave of infections in Europe’s largest economy.