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Covid threat to Europe “remains,” says WHO despite declining infections


The threat from the coronavirus “remains,” said the World Health Organization.

Cases in Europe have decreased “significantly” in the past week, said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, in a press conference on Thursday.

LONDON – The threat to Europe posed by the coronavirus “remains,” the World Health Organization said Thursday, despite a recent drop in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the region.

“It has been 462 days since the first cases of Covid-19 were reported. Based on the number of confirmed cases, 5.5% of the entire European population has now had Covid-19, while 7% has completed a full series of vaccinations, ”said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, in a press conference on Thursday.

“But even as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths decrease, the threat remains,” Kluge warned.

The virus still has the potential to have devastating consequences, he added, noting that nearly half of all reported infections in Europe since the start of the pandemic have occurred in the first four months of this year.

However, he expressed some hope for the region, adding that “for the first time in two months, new cases fell significantly last week. Still, contamination rates throughout the region remain extremely high. ”

The comments come amid a mixed picture of recovery around the world. As India faces a devastating rise in cases and a lack of medical supplies, other parts of the world are starting to reopen their economies.

In Europe, the UK is steadily lifting its lockdown and the roll-out of vaccinations continues to accelerate. To date, nearly 34 million adults in the country have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than 13 million people have received two doses.

In mainland Europe, more than 133 million doses of Covid vaccines have been administered to date in 30 countries in the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), according to data from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHO’s Kluge urged governments not to allow vaccination programs, public involvement in vaccines, or surveillance of the virus, falter.

“Where vaccination coverage is highest in high-risk groups, hospital admissions decline and mortality rates decline. Vaccines save lives, and they will change the course of this pandemic and eventually end it, ”he said.

“We also need to be aware that vaccines alone will not end the pandemic.” Without informing and involving the communities, they remain exposed to the virus. We cannot identify new variants without supervision. And without tracing contacts, governments may have to reintroduce restrictive measures.