Scotland fans will arrive at King’s Cross Station in London, England on June 17, 2021. Football games that take place during the European Championship have been blamed for an increase in the number of Covid cases.
Rob Pinney | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images
A new wave of coronavirus cases could soon hit Europe, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday, stressing that the drop in infection numbers in the region has now ended.
“A ten-week decline in the number of Covid-19 cases in the 53 countries of the WHO European Region has come to an end,” warned Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, in a press conference.
“Last week the number of cases rose 10% due to increased mixing, travel, gatherings and a relaxation of social restrictions,” he said.
The rise in cases is against the background of a “rapidly evolving situation,” said Kluge in view of the new Delta strain, which the WHO identified as a worrying variant in May.
Millions remain unvaccinated in Europe, warned Kluge, with protection from the Delta variant largely guaranteed by the offer of two doses of the Covid vaccines. Kluge reiterated what the data has already shown that the Delta variant is much more transmissible than the Alpha variant (which itself was more transmissible than previous strains).
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“Delta is overtaking Alpha very quickly … and is already leading to increased hospital admissions and deaths,” said Kluge. He said the delta variant would dominate the WHO European region through August while vaccinations had still not caught up.
“By August, the WHO European Region will be ‘delta dominant’,” he noted, adding that 63% of people are still waiting for their first shot while restrictions on public life are likely to be lifted by next month. For example, the UK, which has a high vaccination rate but also many cases from the Delta variant, plans to lift the restrictions on July 19.
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Kluge said there were three conditions for “a new wave of excessive hospital admissions and deaths” before the fall: new variants, a deficit in vaccine intake and increased social mix.
“There will be a new wave in the WHO European region if we don’t stay disciplined and even more if there are far fewer rules to follow,” he warned.
Medical worker Mantra Nguyen installs a new oxygen mask for a patient in the Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas.
Nakamura go | Getty Images News | Getty Images.
Increase in infections
Clever comments come amid a worrying spike in Covid infections across Europe, despite efforts to restrict travel from high-risk regions.
Others are now following the UK, with France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Russia belonging to a group of countries where an increasing number of Covid cases are caused by the Delta variant, especially among younger, unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated people .
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The increased mix, especially given the delayed UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament currently taking place across the continent, has not helped to prevent the spread of the variant with gatherings and crowds during the games.