Virus deaths rising only in Europe: WHO

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The World Health Organisation says coronavirus deaths in Europe rose by 5 per cent in the last week, making it the only region in the world where COVID-19 mortality has increased.

The UN health agency said confirmed cases jumped 6 per cent jump globally, driven by increases in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

In its weekly report on the pandemic, the WHO said COVID-19 deaths in all regions other than Europe remained stable or declined and totalled 50,000 worldwide last week.

Of the 3.3 million new infections reported, 2.1 million came from Europe.

It was the seventh consecutive week that COVID-19 cases continued to mount across the 61 countries WHO counts in its European region, which stretches through Russia to central Asia.

While about 60 per cent of people in western Europe are fully immunised against COVID-19, only about half as many are vaccinated in the eastern part of the continent where officials struggle to overcome widespread vaccine hesitancy.

The WHO said infections have been falling in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia since July.

Within Europe, the WHO said the highest numbers of new cases were in Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

It noted that deaths jumped by 67 per cent in Norway and by 38 per cent in Slovakia.

The health agency previously described Europe as being the epicentre of the ongoing pandemic and warned that there could be 500,000 more deaths by January if urgent actions are not taken.

In the last week, Austria, the Netherlands and some other countries reintroduced some lockdown measures to try to slow infections while the UK decided to roll out booster doses to everyone over age 40.

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