WHO says fully vaccinated should wear masks and physically distance as Covid infections surge

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  • “Even if you have been vaccinated, take precautions to prevent yourself from becoming infected and to infect someone else,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
  • “That means wearing a mask, keeping a distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated place inside,” he said.
  • Although most of the reported COVID cases worldwide are in Europe, Tedros said that so far “no country or region is out of the woods”.

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The World Health Organization is urging the public to practice COVID mitigation strategies – including masking and distancing – regardless of vaccination status, as cases continue to rise during the holiday season across Europe.

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During an update on Wednesday in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that some countries and communities have been lured by a “false sense of security” that the pandemic is over and that the vaccine is completely anti-Covid. protected against.

He added that Covid vaccines “save lives” and reduce the risk of serious illness and death, but vaccination can still contract and spread the virus as social mixing returns to pre-pandemic levels.

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“Even if you have been vaccinated, take precautions to prevent yourself from becoming infected and infecting someone else who could die,” Tedros said. “That means wearing a mask, keeping a distance, avoiding crowds, and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space inside.”

Tedros called Europe “the epicenter of the pandemic” with “unsettling pressures” facing both health care systems and personnel. According to the WHO’s most recent weekly epidemiological update, Europe represented 67% of the world’s total new COVID cases with over 2.4 million infections during the week ending 21 November, an 11% increase from the previous seven days.

The WHO’s office, which covers Europe and Central Asia, said on Tuesday that those regions had surpassed a combined 1.5 million Covid deaths and could lead to 700,000 more by March 2022. The organization expects intensive care units in 49 of the 53 countries in the region to experience highs or peaks. stress in the next four months

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Governments withdrawing public health measures are fueling Europe’s current outbreak, said Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme.

“In Europe, even in the midst of a very, very strong resurgence in cases, and even among some of those countries under enormous pressure in their health systems, we are seeing social mixing, gathering And looking at pre-pandemic levels of many other things,” Ryan said. “And the reality is that the virus will continue to transmit rapidly in that environment.”

Although most of the reported COVID cases worldwide are in Europe, Tedros said that so far “no country or region is out of the woods”. But expanding vaccination coverage, wearing masks, using distancing and improving indoor ventilation can help reduce the transmission of Covid during the holiday season without resorting to lockdowns, says WHO’s technical chief on Covid Maria Van Kerkhove said.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Kovid infections are also increasing in the US, with an average of more than 95,000 new cases per day. According to Hopkins, more than 1,100 people are dying from this virus on an average in the US a day.

More than 51,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, up 7% from the previous week, according to Health and Human Services’ average data for seven days as of Wednesday.

Former head of the US Food and Drug Administration and member of the Pfizer board, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that more people are contracting the virus than vaccinated people, due to weak surveillance of breakthrough infections in the US.

“At this point I think we need to acknowledge that a lot of infections are happening, especially people who are a significant chunk of time off their original vaccinations,” Gottlieb said. “There are going to be retrospective studies identifying this, but we’re not doing a good job of tracking it in real time. And that’s the rationale for people to go out and get boosters,” he said.

The US on Friday approved Pfizer and Moderna Booster for all adults. The Johnson & Johnson booster was approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October. The WHO has criticized the widespread distribution of boosters in wealthy countries because people in poor countries have very limited access to vaccines.

The Netherlands entered a partial lockdown on Saturday, while Austria’s fourth full COVID lockdown began on Monday, a nationwide vaccine mandate taking effect on 1 February. Germany is also weighing whether to start a lockdown as the country’s seven-day new case average approaches. Tuesday hit a record-high of more than 53,100 per day, up 29% from the week before, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

The Biden administration has no plans for a lockdown, the White House said on Monday, pointing to rising vaccination rates and new medical treatments coming online. The US government has purchased 10 million courses of Pfizer’s COVID treatment pill, Paxlovid, which demonstrated high efficacy in preventing hospitalizations during clinical trials.

“We can stop the spread of the virus in any way without shutting down our economy,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Gents told reporters during a briefing. “We now have 82% of people who have had one shot and every week more and more people are getting vaccinated.”

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