Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - WHO warns Europe may lose 700K more to Covid by March



WHO warns Europe may lose 700K more to Covid by March

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People wearing face masks stand in a long queue to get the Covid-19 jab in the northern German city of Hamburg. AFP

WHO warns Europe may lose 700K more to Covid by March

Europe remains “in the firm grip” of Covid and the continent’s death toll could top 2.2 million this winter if current trends continue, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on November 23.

Europe is battling an upsurge in the pandemic that saw Austria return to lockdown this week while Germany and the Netherlands are poised to announce new restrictions.

A further 700,000 people in the 53 countries that comprise the WHO’s European region could die by March 1, the global health agency said, in addition to the 1.5 million who have already succumbed to the virus.

It expects “high or extreme stress in intensive care units [ICU] in 49 out of 53 countries between now and March 1, 2022”.

Europe’s return to the pandemic’s epicentre has been blamed on sluggish vaccine uptake in some nations, the highly contagious Delta variant, colder weather moving people indoors again and the easing of restrictions.

In the EU, 67.7 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

But rates vary widely between countries, with low levels in many eastern countries. Only 24.2 per cent of Bulgarians are fully vaccinated, compared with 86.7 per cent in Portugal.

According to WHO data, Covid-related deaths in Europe increased last week to almost 4,200 a day, doubling from 2,100 a day at the end of September.

It said evidence was growing that vaccine-induced protection against infection and mild disease was declining.

Several countries, including Greece, France and Germany, are moving towards requiring a third booster shot for someone to be considered fully vaccinated.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Germany is not doing enough to curb its “highly dramatic” fourth wave of the pandemic.

With intensive care beds swiftly filling up and its weekly incidence rate at an all-time high of 399.8 new infections per 100,000 people, Germany’s worst-hit regions have ordered new shutdowns.

The German military is expected to add coronavirus jabs to the list of mandatory vaccines for soldiers “soon”, a defence ministry spokesman said.

The move would make troops the first German public servants to be obliged to be jabbed against the virus.

It comes as the army is preparing to deploy soldiers to help local authorities with vaccinations, tests and other efforts to counter soaring infection rates expected in the weeks ahead.

The state department has urged US citizens not to travel to Germany or neighbouring Denmark because of the surging Covid case numbers.

The rise in cases and hospitalisations have ignited a fierce debate in Germany about whether to follow Austria’s example and make vaccination mandatory for all citizens.

Austria meanwhile closed shops, restaurants and festive markets on November 22, the most drastic restrictions seen in Western Europe for months.

Israel, which is part of the WHO’s European region, on November 23 rolled out vaccinations for children aged five to 11, one of only a handful of countries to inoculate minors that young.

About half of its recently confirmed cases were among those below the age of 11, it said.

And France’s fully vaccinated Prime Minister Jean Castex went into isolation late on November 22 following a positive test, after his daughter caught the virus.

The regional director for WHO Europe, Hans Kluge, said Europe and Central Asia “face a challenging winter ahead”.

He called for a “vaccine plus” approach, consisting of a combination of vaccinations, social distancing, the use of face masks and hand washing.

The WHO said face masks reduce Covid incidence by 53 per cent according to a recent study, and “over 160,000 deaths could be prevented [by March 1] if universal mask coverage of 95 per cent was achieved”.

But the prospect of a winter under renewed restrictions has sparked unrest in several countries.

Belgium, the Netherlands and France’s Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique were on November 23 still reeling from violent protests against new anti-Covid measures.

Dutch police arrested at least 21 people during a fourth night of clashes, which Prime Minister Mark Rutte labelled “pure violence” by “idiots”.

His Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo called violence at a 35,000-strong protest in Brussels “absolutely unacceptable”.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished