'Surge is coming': Europe facing 'fourth wave' despite vaccine coverage

As Australia's Covid-hit cities open up and major restrictions ease, cases in Europe are on the rise with experts warning a winter surge is coming — and it "won't be gentle."

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the number of new cases in Europe rose by seven percent last week and the number of deaths rose by 10 percent.

A report released by WHO on Wednesday said Europe is the only region in the world where there are increasing Covid-19 cases and deaths.

People wearing masks walking near a train.
WHO described the new wave of cases as a "grave concern".

Worldwide, Covid-19 deaths declined by 4 per cent and decreased in every region — except in Europe.

According to the report, there were about 3.1 million new cases globally — around a one-percent increase from the previous week — with nearly two-thirds of these infections in Europe.

Reporting 'record high' Covid cases again

Epidiomogist's are echoing WHO's findings. Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist, health economist and Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists warned that a "winter surge is coming" and it won't just be contained to European countries.

"It won’t be gentle," he wrote in a tweet. "Germany, Austria, & many other European countries reporting all time record high Covid-19 cases again.

"Bavaria (Munich region) has now officially declared a public health emergency disaster. This will happen in US and elsewhere too."

Dr Feigl-Ding added that more children between 0-19 have died from Covid related deaths in October compared to any past month of the pandemic.

According to WHO, the highest numbers of new cases were reported from the USA, Russia, Turkey Germany and the UK.

'Fourth wave': Denmark to reintroduce Coivd restrictions

The surge in cases in countries such as Denmark — one of the first countries in Europe to lift Covid restrictions when 80 per cent of the population aged 12 and above had been fully vaccinated — has the government moving to reimpose Covid restrictions.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on Monday (local time) the country will reintroduce restrictions because of the increase in cases.

Regional WHO head Hans Kluge described the spike in infections as a "grave concern."

"The current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern," he said, adding that the spread was increased by the Delta variant which is transmitted more easily.

Mr Kluge warned earlier that if the trend of increased cases continued in Europe there could be 500,000 Covid-related deaths by February.

"We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of Covid-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place," he said.

Mr Kluge told CBS News its vital vaccinations and booster shots continue to be administered, with vaccination uptake plateauing in some parts of Europe.

"At the same time, there's a relaxation of the public health and social measures, which is a cocktail for what we see: a fourth wave," he said.

Mr Kluge advised people should celebrate the holidays but do so safely, suggesting trying to keep numbers down when different households mix and to "vaccinate and ventilate."

with Reuters

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