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WHO Europe chief voices ‘grave concern’ about COVID rebound

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Europe and Central Asia faces the “real threat” of a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in the coming weeks or already is experiencing a new wave of infections, the head of the World Health Organization’s regional office said Thursday, according to AP News.

Dr. Hans Kluge explained that case counts are beginning to near-record levels again and the pace of transmission in the region, which stretches as far east as the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, is of “grave concern.”

“We are at another critical point of pandemic resurgence. Europe is back at the epicentre of the pandemic, where we were one year ago,” Kluge told reporters from WHO Europe headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. “

Kluge stated that hospitalization rates due to COVID-19 in the region more than doubled over the last week. If that trajectory continues, the region could see another 500,000 pandemic deaths by February.

WHO Europe said the region tallied nearly 1.8 million new weekly cases, an increase of about 6% from the previous week, and 24,000 COVID-19 weekly deaths, – a 12% gain.

WHO’s headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday reported that cases had risen in Europe for the fifth consecutive week, making it the only world region where COVID-19 is still increasing. The infection rate was by far the highest in Europe, which reported some 192 new cases per 100,000 people.

“The difference now is that health authorities know more about the virus and have better tools to combat it. Relaxed prevention measures and low vaccination rates in some areas explain the latest surge,” said Kluge.