Thursday. 28.09.2023

The latest weekly number of novel coronavirus infections in Europe is higher than in March, when the region went through the first peak of the pandemic, the World Health Organization's (WHO) top European official said on Thursday.

"We do have a very serious situation unfolding before us," WHO Europe chief Hans Kluge told a press briefing in Copenhagen. "The September numbers should serve as a wake-up call for all of us."

The UN health agency counted more than 300,000 new Covid-19 patients last week in its European statistics, which include several Central Asian countries.

More than half of the countries in the region have seen infections rise by more than 10% in the past two weeks, according to the WHO.

However, Kluge also stressed that the region has the tools to overcome this phase of the pandemic.

Fight people's fatigue

"We have fought it back before and we can fight it back again," he said, pointing to virus tests, hygiene, physical distancing, face masks and the avoidance of large gatherings.

In addition, he said, European countries must fight people's fatigue with Covid-19 measures, for example by working with young people on safe ways to be social, rather than simply closing down parts of their social life.

Kluge also expressed support for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's call on Wednesday for more EU power and money for health issues.

"We do share her vision for a European Health Union," he said.

WHO: Latest Covid-19 figures in Europe exceed March peak