Cases in Europe drop ‘significantly’ but threat remains: WHO

Copenhagen, Apr 29 (EFE).- Coronavirus infections have been reduced “significantly” in Europe, the World Health Organization said Thursday, but warned that they remain too high.

“For the first time in two months, new cases dropped significantly last week. However, infection rates across Europe remain very high,” WHO-Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference.

Kluge stressed that although hospitalizations and deaths are falling, the threat remains “present” and that the virus still has the potential to cause “devastating effects”.

Almost half of all the cases registered in the European region since the beginning of the pandemic were detected in the first four months of this year, said the head of the WHO in Europe, where 5.5% of the population has had Covid-19 and 7% has completed the vaccination process.

Just over 215 million vaccine doses have been administered on the continent and about 16% of the population has received one, a percentage that rises to 81% in the case of healthcare workers (in 28 of the 53 countries in the region).

“Where vaccination rates in high-risk groups are high, hospital admissions and deaths are reduced. Vaccines are saving lives, will turn the tide of this pandemic and help end it,” Kluge said.

The WHO-Europe director stressed, however, that vaccines are just “one tool” that must be complemented by monitoring of new variants, testing and other public health measures.

The WHO considers the new Indian variant, which could be behind the recent surge of cases in South Asia, “of interest” and not “of concern” (as is the case with the British, South African and Brazilian variants), according to its latest epidemiological report, published on Wednesday.

Kluge stressed Thursday that this mutation is still under investigation and that there may be other factors involved, but warned that something similar could happen elsewhere.

A perfect storm can happen “anywhere where vaccine coverage is low and measures are relaxed,” he warned. EFE


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