The Covid threat for Europe “ remains present ”, according to the WHO despite the drop in infections

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A boy reacts next to the body of his father, who died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a crematorium in New Delhi, India on April 24, 2021.

Adnan Abidi | Reuters

LONDON – The threat to Europe posed by the coronavirus “remains present,” the World Health Organization said on Thursday, despite a recent drop in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the region.

“It has been 462 days since the first cases of Covid-19 were reported. Based on the number of confirmed cases, 5.5% of the entire European population now have Covid-19, while 7% have completed a full series of vaccinations, “said the WHO regional director. for Europe, said Dr Hans Kluge at a press conference on Thursday.

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“But even as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, the threat remains,” Kluge warned.

The virus still has the potential to inflict devastating effects, he added, noting that nearly half of all infections reported in Europe since the start of the pandemic have in fact occurred within the first four months of this year.

However, signaling some hope for the region, he added that “for the first time in two months new cases have dropped significantly last week. Yet infection rates in the region remain extremely high.”

The comments come amid a mixed picture of the recovery across the globe. As India grapples with a devastating spike in cases and lack of medical supplies, other parts of the world are starting to reopen their economies.

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In Europe, the UK is steadily lifting its lockdown and its vaccination rollout continues at pace. To date, nearly 34 million adults nationwide have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than 13 million people have received two doses, according to government data.

In continental Europe, more than 133 million doses of Covid vaccines have been administered to date in 30 counties in the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), according to data from the European Center disease control and prevention.

The speed of vaccination programs varies enormously across the EU, with some countries progressing faster than others.

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WHO’s Kluge urged governments not to allow vaccination programs, public engagement with vaccines or virus surveillance to falter.

“Where vaccination rates in high-risk groups are highest, hospital admissions are falling and death rates are falling. Vaccines save lives, and they will turn the tide of this pandemic and ultimately contribute to end it, ”he said.

“We also need to be aware that vaccines alone will not“ end the pandemic. ”Without informing and involving communities, they remain exposed to the virus. Without monitoring, we cannot identify new variants. And without contact tracing, governments may have to re-impose restrictive measures. “

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