WHO warns 500K more deaths could be recorded by March amid new uptick

The World Health Organization “very worried” about the new wave of COVID-19 infections in Europe amid an uptick in cases. WHO’s Europe director, Dr Hans Kluge, while speaking to BBC, has warned that 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March. 

Kluge said factors such as the winter season, when there is normally an increase in viral infections, and low vaccine coverage were responsible for the increase in cases. He called for more people to get vaccinated, basic public health measures to be implemented and new treatments to be developed, but said mandatory vaccination should be the last resort.

“Covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region,” he told the BBC. “We know what needs to be done” to fight the disease.

Austria announced this week that it would become the first country to legally require people to have the vaccines from February. It has the lowest vaccination rate in western Europe, and recorded another 15,809 cases on Friday.  Austria will go into a full lockdown for the third time on Monday until at least 12 December. 

The German health minister, Jens Spahn, said the situation in the country was a “national emergency” and would not rule out another national lockdown. Christmas markets were cancelled in the south-eastern state of Bavaria, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Dutch police fired warning shots on protestors in Rotterdam who have been angered by the new restrictions introduced to reduce infections. The police also used water cannons to disperse demonstrators as they set off fireworks in one of the main shopping streets.   Similar protests also took place in Austria.

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