WHO warns of half a million Covid deaths by March, Austrians protest lockdown

Madrid Desk, Nov 20 (EFE).- Europe could witness another 500,000 Covid-19 deaths by March next year unless urgent action is taken, the World Health Organization warned Saturday as cases surge across much of the continent amid protests against coronavirus restrictions in Austria and the Netherlands.

Hans Kluge, the head of WHO Europe, told the BBC in an interview that face mask use could help stem soaring infection rates.

The stark warning came as a number of European nations like Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic continued to register a record number of daily Covid-19 cases.

Around 40,000 people in Austria protested against Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday, a day after the country’s government announced a 20-day nationwide lockdown starting Monday and compulsory vaccines from February 2022.

The protests were called by the far-right Freedom Party of Austria. Its leader Herbert Kickl, who was unable to attend after testing positive for Covid-19, tweeted that the protest showed that the desire to be “free” was stronger than “repression.”

Austrian health authorities on Friday reported a daily record of 15,800 cases. The Alpine country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe as jab uptake has plateaued at around 65.7%.

German officials are also beefing up restrictions as cases soar, knocking down one daily record after another.

Authorities on Saturday registered almost 64,000 new cases and 248 deaths in 24 hours. EFE


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