“Europe need to accelerate vaccine uptake and bring back masks” says WHO

"Europe need to accelerate vaccine uptake and bring back masks" says WHO. Image: World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said European health officials need to tackle rising COVID-19 cases otherwise they risk needing stricter measures later in the year.

WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, urged countries to take action now to avoid overwhelming health systems in the autumn and winter as Omicron subvariant BA.5 continues to spread rapidly.

Close to 3 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in Europe in the week beginning July 11, accounting for nearly half of all new cases globally, the World Economic Forum confirmed on Monday, July 25.

“There is a rise in cases amidst a society which is functioning almost as before,” Kluge said.

He stressed the need for “pandemic stabilizers” such as a second booster dose ahead of the expected variant-specific vaccines in the autumn, as well as the promotion of mask-wearing and better ventilation.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 570.1 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 6.38 million. More than 12.3 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

New Zealand is experiencing its highest COVID-19 death rate, as the country battles a wave of the Omicron strain of the virus.

US President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 last week but was continuing to work while in isolation.

New confirmed COVID-19 cases hit a record in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday of last week. It’s the first time daily confirmed infections in the city have exceeded 30,000.

Germany’s vaccine advisory panel will be expanded to include more experts on pandemics, following some criticism about the speed of the recommendations the panel gave during the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s southern megacity of Shenzhen has vowed to “mobilize all resources” to curb a slowly spreading COVID-19 outbreak. It has ordered strict implementation of testing and temperature checks, and lockdowns for COVID-affected buildings.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 18 and above.

It comes as the BA.5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 has been estimated to make up nearly 80% of circulating variants in the United States.


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Written by

Anna Ellis

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