WHO warns of 700K deaths by spring amid soaring infections in Europe

Madrid Desk, Nov 23 (EFE).- The World Health Organisation warned Tuesday that Europe could see up to 700,000 coronavirus deaths this winter unless rising infection rates on the continent are curbed.

Hospitals and intensive care units across Europe are approaching capacity, including in the German capital Berlin, where authorities tightened restrictions for access to public spaces for the unvaccinated.

The senate of the city-state of Berlin, where the cumulative incidence in seven days amounted to 349 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, decided to reinforce the 2G (vaccinated, recovered) regulation that is already in force.

Only people who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid will be allowed to enter shops, with the exception of those selling basic necessities, which will remain open to people who have not been vaccinated.

Even immunized people will have to present a negative test to access recreational activities and leisure spaces where the use of masks is not possible, such as restaurants.

Traditional Christmas markets will remain open, which will also operate under the usual 2G rules, and large events such as soccer matches or concerts can go ahead, although capacity limits will be introduced.

“The aim is not to disturb the unvaccinated,” Berlin’s State Secretary for Health Martin Gatz said when announcing the measures at a press conference, where he stressed the need to protect the population and ensure that hospitals can continue functioning.

“72 % of those admitted in November are not vaccinated, although they only represent 20% of the adult population,” said Gatz, who warned that the measures announced on Tuesday will not have an immediate impact, but will have to wait at least three weeks to see a result.

Many hospitals in Berlin, where 3,262 new infections and five deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, are already postponing all non-urgent operations.

Authorities in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia have also ramped up Covid restrictions by requiring the Covid pass for entry to restaurants, gyms, sport centers and nursing homes.

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