The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases has tripled across Europe in the past six weeks. The coronavirus is killing around 3,000 people every week. Some expressed concerns that the resurgence of COVID-19 is only set to get worse in the autumn and winter months.
“Omicron subvariants, Stealth Omicron (BA.2) and BA.5, are going to widespread rapidly across the 53 countries in its European region,” said Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. Last week, the number of confirmed cases in Europe reached about 3 million, nearly half of all infections globally during the same period. The two variants’ fatality rates are lower than that of the previous variants, including Delta, but spread so fast that hospitalization rates have doubled with soaring cases.
The relatives of the Omicron variant, such as BA.2 and Centaurus (BA.2.75), are driving new waves of disease across Europe. The Centaurus variant is gaining ground in around 10 countries including Korea. “Long COVID-19” has been the subject of growing concern over the long-lasting impact that infection has on a person after recovery. The U.S. has urged COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to develop vaccines customized for variants.
Director Kluge warned that the medical system is under enormous pressure and they cannot wait until this autumn, calling for urgent action. He also highlighted disease control measures, including the 4th booster shots and mask mandates. While some countries lifted mask mandates, he noted that just because a mask isn’t mandated doesn’t mean it’s prohibited,” posting a photo of himself wearing a mask on Twitter. Director Kluge also added, “Most countries in Europe that have stopped or reduced COVID-19 tests are creating a dangerous blind spot.”
He was concerned that people are becoming less vigilant about the virus, saying “People ask me if the virus really is back. It has never disappeared. It is still a deadly illness taking people’s lives like an evil.” Director Kluge pointed out that the countries around the world must invest in medicine although they may be busy responding to inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Eun-Taek Lee firstname.lastname@example.org