The World Health Organization has called on European governments to urgently reinforce rather than reduce Covid-19 monitoring, warning of a potentially difficult winter as a new wave of infections sweeps across the continent.
Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said it was now “abundantly clear” that the region faced a surge driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variants BA.2 and BA.5 and that it would intensify further as indoor mixing increased in the autumn.
Kluge said new cases had trebled in the region over the past six weeks, with close to 3m new infections confirmed last week. Nearly half of all new cases worldwide are in Europe, he said, where hospital admissions due to the virus have also doubled.
Intensive care admissions remain relatively low, he said, but as infection rates in older populations continue to rise, almost 3,000 people are still dying of Covid every week.