The World Health Organization (WHO) has on Tuesday revealed that coronavirus cases have tripled across Europe in the past six weeks, accounting for nearly half of all infections globally.
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 said super-infectious relatives of the omicron variant were driving new waves of disease across the continent and that repeat infections could potentially lead to long COVID.
The WHO also explained that Hospitalization rates have also doubled amid low intensive care admissions.
According to WHO the 53 countries in its European region, which stretches to central Asia, reported nearly 3 million new coronavirus infections last week and that the virus was killing about 3,000 people every week. Globally, COVID-19 cases have increased for the past five weeks, even as countries have scaled back on testing.
Earlier this week, editors of two UK-based medical journals said the country’s National Health Service has never before had so many parts of the system so close to collapsing.
They slammed the government’s insistence that vaccines have broken the link between infections and hospitalizations. Although vaccines dramatically reduce the chances of severe disease and death, they have not made a significant dent on transmission.
Meanwhile, in an outline of its COVID-19 fall strategy also published on Tuesday, WHO called for a second vaccine booster dose for anyone age five and above with weak immune systems, promoting mask-wearing indoors and on public transport, and better ventilation in schools, offices and other places.
Kluge urged individuals to make their own decisions, even in countries where authorities have largely abandoned coronavirus restrictions.
“With rising cases, we’re also seeing a rise in hospitalisations, which are only set to increase further in the autumn and winter months,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s Europe director, said in a statement.
“This forecast presents a huge challenge to the health workforce in country after country, already under enormous pressure dealing with unrelenting crises since 2020,” he added.
“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.
“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.
“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.”