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Covid-19: WHO warns of new wave in Europe unless people 'remain disciplined'
1 July 2021, 15:40
The World Health Organisation has warned a new Covid-19 wave in Europe is possible unless people "remain disciplined" and more get vaccinated.
The organisation's Europe chief Dr Hans Kluge confirmed that a 10-week drop in coronavirus cases in the region has ended and cited a 10% rise in infection numbers over the past week.
He blamed "increased mixing, travel, gatherings, and easing of social restrictions" for the rise and warned that the highly transmissible Delta variant, first discovered in India, is on track to be the most dominant in the continent by August.
"The three conditions for a new wave of excess hospitalisations and deaths before the autumn are therefore in place - new variants, deficit in vaccine uptake, increased social mixing," he told reporters from Copenhagen, Denmark.
"There will be a new wave in the WHO European region unless we remain disciplined, and even more so when there is much less rules in place to follow, and unless we all take the vaccine without hesitating when it is our turn," he added.
Dr Kluge also confirmed that around 63% of people in Europe have not yet had a first vaccine jab.
He said people who want to travel and gather over the summer should continue "life-saving reflexes" like wearing masks.
WHO Europe says people should make sure they get both doses of double-jab vaccines for maximum effectiveness.
It follows warnings on Thursday from WHO senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood, who suggested that Euro 2020 crowds were driving many of the recent cases.
"We need to look much beyond just the stadiums themselves," she said.
"We need to look at how people get there, are they travelling in large crowded convoys of buses? And when they leave the stadiums, are they going into crowded bars and pubs to watch the matches?
"It is these small continuous events that are driving the spread of the virus," Smallwood said.
She warned against governments lifting social distancing measures amid increased transmission and said any such lifting should be accompanied by stronger public-health measures, including sharing and sequencing information on new variants, testing, and reinforcing contact tracing.