Less than two weeks after the United States reopened to vaccinated travelers, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a worrying increase in deaths from COVID-19 in Europe unless tougher action is taken.
The Biden administration lifted the restrictions on November 8, ending a travel ban that had closed the United States to travelers for 20 months to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Rules now require travelers to show a vaccination test and a negative COVID-19 test to enter the US
But now, the WHO director for Europe has called for urgent action to be taken as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed to record levels in many European countries. “COVID-19 has once again become the leading cause of death in our region,” Dr Hans Kluge told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
Kluge said he is “very concerned” about the increase, which he says has been driven by the winter weather, low vaccination coverage and dominance of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus.
Number 1: get vaccinated if fit.
I – Wear a mask in enclosed, enclosed and crowded spaces
Cover coughs and sneezes
Maintain physical distance from others
Wash your hands regularly
Ventilate indoor spaces – let in fresh air
We can all help stop the infection and spread of # COVID19
– Hans Kluge (@hans_kluge) November 20, 2021
He explained that too many people in Europe remain susceptible to the virus, either because they are not vaccinated or because of decreased immunity to the vaccine.
Kluge warned that the continent could register half a million more deaths on March 1 if tougher measures are not imposed. “We know what needs to be done,” he said.
Kluge said increased mask use, increased vaccine uptake and booster injection would help reduce the spread of COVID-19. He also said more attention should be paid to ventilation and that new treatment protocols needed to be introduced to deal with the increase in infections.
“As we move towards the end of 2021, the situation of # COVID19 across the European region is deeply worrying,” Kluge tweeted on Saturday. “But we have the tools to manage transmission, save lives and keep societies open.”
“Number 1: Get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” he said in a follow-up tweet.
“Wear a mask in crowded, enclosed, confined spaces,” the tweet said, adding that people should also cover coughs and sneezes, keep physical distance from others, wash their hands regularly, and ventilate them. interior spaces.
Signs warn COVID-19 travelers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on November 24, 2020 in New York City.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
Kluge’s warning comes after Austria became the first European country on Friday to announce that its entire population would be legally obliged to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The country’s vaccination rate is among the lowest in Western Europe.
Austria will also enter a full national blockade from Monday. The confinement will last “a maximum of 20 days,” Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.
Protests erupted in the Austrian capital, Vienna, after the announcement.
The riots also continued for a second night in the Netherlands on Saturday after the country imposed a partial blockade in response to a record increase in COVID-19 cases.
The White House and the World Health Organization have been contacted for comment.