Coronavirus cases top 60 million in European region, says WHO

The Nation  |  Aug 03, 2021

The number of COVID-19 cases has passed the milestone of 60 million in the WHO European region since the pandemic began, said the health body's regional office on Monday, along with a warning that "travel is not risk-free."

"The end of the pandemic is still over the horizon, and sadly, so far in the European region there have been more than 1.2 million COVID-19 deaths," said Dr. Dorit Nitzan, WHO regional emergency director for Europe.

"It is important that countries continue their combined efforts to protect their most vulnerable people and those at risk," she said.

Globally, on Monday, the WHO said there had been over 198.02 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including some 4.22 million reported deaths while nearly 3.84 billion vaccine doses have been administered.

"For the pandemic to end, we must rapidly scale up vaccinations equitably in all countries, including supporting vaccine production, as appropriate, and sharing of doses, as relevant, to protect the vulnerable population in every country," said Nitzan.

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Vaccinations vary widely between countries in the 53 countries in the WHO European region, extending from Greenland in the northwest to the Russian Far East.

"The vaccination coverage amongst the priority population groups such as the over-60s, healthcare workers, people living in long-term care facilities, and those with underlying conditions is still low in a few countries," said the WHO official.

'Vaccinations prevent severe illness'

"As vaccines are proven effective in preventing severe illness and deaths, more cases in these priority groups will mean more hospitalizations and deaths. So, we must urgently get all the priority groups vaccinated."

Dorit said there is also the need to follow public health and social measures: testing, sequencing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine, along with handwashing, wearing a mask, and keeping physical distancing in crowded, confined, and closed places.

During Europe's summer season, the WHO has cautioned of the risks of travel, saying that it and mass gatherings can increase the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.

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"If you want to travel, think about the need and assess your risks. Your decision counts for ending this pandemic. If you decide to travel and gather, do it safely," said the health body.

"Avoid the three Cs; more than the travel itself, it is the place that matters. Settings that are Closed, Confined or Crowded will put you at higher risk of being infected with COVID-19."

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