< /p> UPDATE DAY
The World Health Organization in Europe warned on Tuesday of a “difficult” autumn and winter due to rising COVID-19 cases amid slackness among member states .
“COVID-19 remains a nasty, potentially fatal disease,” said WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge, saying he contracted it himself for the first time. first time two weeks ago and that it had knocked him down for three days.
In a statement, Mr. Kluge called the current situation “similar to that of last summer” , but, he clarified, “this time around, the wave of Covid-19 is being driven by more contagious sublines of the Omicron variant.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the 53 countries the organization covers (including several in Central Asia) has tripled in the past six weeks, “approaching three million cases recorded last week”, representing nearly the half of the global total, he recalled.
Over the same period, the number of hospitalizations has doubled and, although the number of intensive care admissions remains “relatively low”, nearly 3,000 people still die of Covid in Europe each week, he added.
According to the organization, the increase in the number of Covid cases is expected to continue in the coming months due to the end of summer holidays, the reopening of schools and social interactions happening more in enclosed settings as temperatures drop.
Combined with a “decline in virus surveillance”, such an increase points to “a difficult autumn and winter” in the Europe region, warned Mr. Kluge.
According to him, states must “urgently respond” to the gaps in pandemic surveillance and act now to avoid preventable deaths and serious disruptions in health systems.
“ Waiting until autumn to act will be too late,” he said.
WHO Europe has also unveiled a strategy for autumn and winter.
This involves increasing population vaccination, a second booster dose for immunocompromised people over the age of five and their close friends and family, and thinking about the advisability of also offering such a measure to groups at specific risks “at least three months after their last injection”.
The organization also invites people to encourage the wearing of masks indoors and on public transport, to ventilate busy public spaces such as schools and offices, and to “enforce a rigorous protocol for those at risk of serious illness.”< /p>