May 28, 2024

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Covid: Tough autumn and winter, WHO warns

Covid: Tough autumn and winter, WHO warns

The World Health Organization in Europe warned on Tuesday of a “difficult” autumn and winter due to rising cases of COVID-19 amid a slowdown among member states.

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“Covid-19 remains a nasty, dangerous disease,” said WHO Europe director Hans Kluk, who said he himself first fell ill two weeks ago, knocking it down for three days.

In a statement, Kluge called the current situation “similar to last summer,” but, “this time, the wave of COVID-19 is driven by sublines of omicron variability,” and the pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the 53 countries covered by the organization (including many in Central Asia) has tripled in the past six weeks, “approaching the three million cases recorded last week,” representing nearly half of the global total. .

In the same period, the number of hospitalizations has doubled, and although the number of intensive care admissions is “relatively low”, nearly 3,000 people are still dying from Covid every week in Europe, he added.

The number of COVID cases will continue to rise in the coming months as the end of summer vacation, the reopening of schools and more social interaction in closed spaces as temperatures drop, the organization said.

Coupled with a “decline in virus surveillance”, such an increase points to a “difficult autumn and winter” in the Europe region, Mr Kluge warned.

He said states “must respond urgently” to gaps in epidemic surveillance and act now to avoid preventable deaths and severe disruptions to health systems.

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“Waiting until fall is too late to act,” he said.

WHO Europe also published a strategy for autumn and winter.

It includes increasing population vaccination, a second booster dose for immunocompromised people over the age of five and their close friends and family, and is considering advisability of offering such a measure “at least three months after the last injection” for groups at particular risk. ”.

The organization calls for encouraging the wearing of masks indoors and on public transport, ventilating busy public spaces such as schools and offices and “enforcing a strict protocol for those at risk of serious illness”.