Europe is entering a ‘plausible endgame to the pandemic’, WHO director says

Madrid Desk, Feb 3 (EFE).- The World Health Organization regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said on Thursday the region was entering a “plausible endgame to the pandemic” with the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 starting to plateau.

“Not to say that it is now all over but to highlight that in the European region there is a singular opportunity to take control of transmission,” Kluge told a press conference in Copenhagen.

The regional director said that the “singular opportunity” to control transmission comes with vaccination, a seasonal pause and the lower severity of the Omicron variant that is now “well established”.

“This period of high protection could be seen as a ceasefire that could bring us enduring peace,” he said.

Meanwhile, the European Council Thursday urged member states to ease current restrictions, in particular for those who are vaccinated, while proposing to extend the EU Digital Covid Certificate until June 2023 for travel.

Sweden is the latest country to announce it will drop all coronavirus restrictions next week, following Norway and Denmark which have already done so.

Austria, on the other hand, approved on Thursday the strictest vaccination mandate in the bloc, for adults over the age of 18, who will be fined from March 15 if they are not vaccinated against Covid-19.

Pregnant women, those with a medical exemption or people who have recovered from the infection in the past 6 months will be exempted.

Neighboring Germany on Thursday reported 236,120 new infections in the last 24 hours, an all-time high since the beginning of the pandemic, while authorities are considering recommending a fourth dose of the vaccine. EFE


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