WHO Europe warns of hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths this winter

Copenhagen, 23 November 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Hundreds of thousands more people in Europe could die in connection with the coronavirus by spring 2022, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Intensive care units in 49 of 53 countries in the European region are expected to face a high or extreme burden between now and March 1, the WHO Europe warned on Tuesday.

Based on current trends, the total number of reported coronavirus deaths is estimated to rise to more than 2.2 million by next spring; It has just passed the 1.5 million mark.

This can be prevented with immediate action, the Copenhagen-based organization said. Universal mask-wearing alone could prevent an estimated 160,000 deaths by March 1, 2022, according to a study.

“In order to live with this virus and continue our daily
lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach,” WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge urged.

“This means getting the standard doses of vaccine, taking a booster if offered, as well as incorporating preventive measures into our
normal routines.

“Taken together, wearing a mask, washing hands, ventilating indoor spaces, keeping physical distance, and sneezing into your elbow are simple, effective ways of gaining control over the virus and keeping societies going.”

WHO Europe sees three factors behind the current increase in the number of new infections in many places.

Firstly, the highly contagious Delta variant dominates in the region.

Secondly, countries have signalled to their populations in recent months that Covid-19 is no longer an urgent threat and have relaxed measures such as the mandatory use of masks.

Thirdly, many people remain vulnerable to the virus because large numbers are still unvaccinated.

The WHO counts 53 countries in the European region, including not only the EU but also countries further east such as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.

A total of 53.5 per cent of the people in this region have been fully vaccinated so far, but there are large differences between the individual countries.

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