Greater than half of Europe may catch Covid-19 in two months, WHO knowledgeable warns


Report Covid-19 instances have put Europe below elevated strain this winter, with some international locations scaling up restrictions and others, like Austria, Greece and Italy, saying new vaccine necessities.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, informed a digital information convention that European and Central Asian international locations stay “below intense strain from Covid-19” in 2022.

“At this time, the Omicron variant represents a brand new West to East tidal wave sweeping throughout the area on prime of the Delta surge that each one international locations have been managing till late 2021,” he mentioned Tuesday.

“At this charge the Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis forecasts that greater than 50% of the inhabitants within the area will probably be contaminated with Omicron within the subsequent 6 to eight weeks.”

He known as on international locations not but affected by the surge “to mandate using prime quality masks in closed and indoor settings and be certain that weak people have entry to them” because of the extremely transmissible Omicron variant.

He defined that Europe has but to see the total affect of the variant in international locations “the place ranges of vaccination uptake are decrease,” and he’s “deeply involved” about Omicron surging into jap Europe the place “we’ll see extra extreme illness within the unvaccinated.”

Japanese European international locations have a few of the lowest vaccination charges within the area regardless of an abundance of pictures, in line with information from the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management (ECDC), which tracks vaccinations within the European Union.

In Bulgaria, solely 28% of residents have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. In Romania, that determine is at 40.5%, in line with ECDC information.

“For international locations not but hit by the Omicron surge, there’s a closing window of alternative to behave now and plan for contingencies,” Kluge warned.

Kluge used the instance of Denmark, the place he mentioned Omicron instances had “exploded” in current weeks. The Covid-19 hospitalization charge for unvaccinated Danes was six instances greater than for many who have been totally vaccinated within the week over Christmas.

Kluge’s calls come as different well being authorities contemplate strengthening their masks tips to assist deal with Omicron. On Monday, the Washington Submit reported that the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention was contemplating recommending N95 or KN95 masks for many who can use them.

New phrases

As faculty phrases start amid report surges in lots of European international locations, Kluge confused that they need to be “the final locations to shut and the primary to reopen.”

He acknowledged that the variant will proceed to contaminate massive numbers of individuals and “faculties could also be unable to maintain all courses open on a regular basis, attributable to an absence of employees.”

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However he confused that “retaining faculties open has vital advantages for kids’s psychological, social and academic well-being,” recommending that preparations ought to be made for “on-line studying alongside bodily presence, so kids can proceed with their training when they’re unable to attend faculty in particular person.”

He reiterated WHO’s suggestions for instructional settings: air flow, hand hygiene and using applicable face masks.

Kluge added that “international locations might want to contemplate reviewing the protocols on testing, isolation and quarantine of classroom contacts to reduce disruption to studying, mitigating these dangers so far as doable with good air flow and masks utilization.”

CNN’s John Bonifield contributed to this report.

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