WHO warns of growing coronavirus cases in Europe

Copenhagen, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said that there have been three consecutive weeks of rising Covid-19 cases in Europe.

WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge warned that parts of the region that initially managed to control the spread of the virus, including Central Europe, the Balkans and the Baltic states, are now experiencing very high infection rates.

“The danger is still clear and present,” said Kluge, who underlined the need to uphold all public health measures taken during the pandemic.

 The European region recorded more than 1.2 million cases last week, with deaths exceeding 900,000, a rate of 20,000 coronavirus fatalities every week.

“The number of people dying from Covid-19 in Europe is higher now than it was this time last year, reflecting the widespread hold this virus has,” Kluge added.

Twenty-seven countries remain under partial or total lockdown, while 21 are gradually easing restrictions.

A total of 46 out of the 53 European countries have administered more than 107 million vaccine doses, and three percent of the population in 45 countries have received both shots of the two-dose Covid-19 vaccines.

Several major EU countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy, have halted the use of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University pending inquiries into reports of thrombosis developing in some people who had received the jab. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is due to publish its findings on Thursday.

The EMA and WHO urged countries to continue using the vaccine because its benefits in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.

“In vaccination campaigns, it is routine to signal potential adverse events. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to the vaccination,” Kluge explained. EFE

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