WHO warns of rise in cases in Europe

Copenhagen, Mar 4 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned of a rise in Covid-19 infections in Europe after six consecutive weeks of declines.

At a press conference, the director of WHO-Europe, Hans Kluge, said measures to control the contagion needed to be boosted, with special attention to the most contagious new variants.

Infections rose by 9% last week, and more than half of the 53 countries in the WHO European Region have seen an increase in new cases.

Central and Eastern Europe have been particularly affected, while there has also been a rise in western Europe, “where rates were already high”, Kluge said.

“Continued strain on our hospitals and health workers is being met with acts of medical solidarity between European neighbours,” he said.

“Nonetheless, over a year into the pandemic our health systems should not be in this situation.”

As well as being especially vigilant with the new coronavirus variants, Kluge said “we need to get back to the basics” and focus on testing, isolating and tracing cases, and boosting public healthcare.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) today began a process of “continuous review,” a real-time analysis, of data on the safety, efficacy and quality of the Russian vaccine Sputnik-V, a process that could lead to licensing the drug for use in the European Union (EU).

Kluge called the announcement “good news” and “a very welcome development,” alluding to the need to increase the number of vaccines available in the European region.

Vaccine rollouts in the European Union have been criticized for their slow pace compared to countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and Australia.

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