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WHO warns challenging autumn, winter amid escalating COVID-19 cases in Europe

Baku, July 20, AZERTAC

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe predicted on Tuesday a "challenging autumn and winter" amid rapidly escalating COVID-19 cases in the region, according to Xinhua.

In the past week, close to 3 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in the European region, accounting for nearly half of all new cases globally, said the WHO in a press release.

"It's now abundantly clear we're in a similar situation to last summer, only this time the ongoing COVID-19 wave is being propelled by sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, notably BA.2 and BA.5, with each dominant sub-lineage of Omicron showing clear transmission advantages over the previously circulating viruses," said WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge in the release.

In Europe, close to 3,000 people per week have been dying from COVID-19, and infection rates are rising most rapidly among the most vulnerable, older populations, said the WHO.

As schools reopen, people return from vacation, and social interaction moves indoors due to the onset of colder weather, the WHO anticipates a significant increase in cases of transmissions and deaths in the upcoming autumn and winter months.

Kluge said the WHO has worked out an autumn/winter strategy for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses to help prepare for the coming waves of infection.

The newly-released strategy urges countries in the region to relaunch the efforts with five pandemic stabilizers, including increasing the respective vaccine uptake, prioritizing the administration of a second booster dose of the vaccines, promoting mask use in public, increasing ventilation in all public areas, and applying rigorous therapeutic protocols to those at risk for severe disease.

"I therefore urge all countries to continue to strengthen COVID-19 surveillance as part of wider resilient population-based surveillance for respiratory viruses and get ready for the autumn," said Kluge.

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