The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe rose last week ending a six-week decline, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday.
More than one million new cases of the deadly virus were recorded last week across the 51 countries of WHO’s European region. This represented a nine per cent rise on the previous week and “brought a promising six-week decline in new cases to an end,” Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Europe’s director, told reporters on Thursday. “Continued strain on our hospitals and health workers is being met with acts of medical solidarity between European neighbours. Nonetheless, over a year into the pandemic our health systems should not be in this situation,” Dr Kluge said.
The resurgence is particularly acute in central and eastern Europe, although several Western countries in which rates were already high, also registered a rise. He urged countries to “get back to basics” by increasing vigilance for variants, improving testing, contact tracing and isolation of cases and accelerating the roll-out of the vaccines.
“1.9% of the population in 40 countries and 24.5% of health workers in 20 countries, have received their completed vaccination series against COVID-19,” Dr Kluge said.
The pandemic has “aggravated and shone a light on underlying structure; gender inequalities” and that confirmed cases are currently more common in females, who are more likely than men to work in health care professions, and young adults.