Europe and the Central Asia area are getting into a brand new part within the coronavirus pandemic, because the Omicron variant displaces Delta, that would result in a extra steady scenario, mentioned Hans Kluge, director of the World Well being Group’s Europe area.
“The pandemic is way from over, however I’m hopeful we are able to finish the emergency part in 2022 and tackle different well being threats that urgently require our consideration,” Kluge mentioned in a press release to the media on Monday marking two years of the pandemic in Europe.
The WHO director warned, nevertheless, that though the Omicron variant was much less harmful than Delta, excessive an infection charges had been nonetheless inflicting hospitalizations to rise, although these translated to much less frequent admission to intensive care items.
Kluge famous that the variant now accounts for 31.8 p.c of circumstances within the WHO’s Europe area, in contrast with 15 p.c the earlier week.
European governments and specialists are debating whether or not, as the present wave of Omicron an infection runs its course, it will be smart to shift to treating the illness as endemic in Europe — the place the virus circulates freely and well being coverage focuses extra on defending the aged and weak whereas most individuals return to residing a extra regular life.
Spain has signaled that it’ll shift towards treating the coronavirus extra like different infectious ailments like influenza. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced final week that restrictions put in place in England earlier than the vacation break could be lifted.
Different well being specialists hew to a extra cautious line, arguing that the main focus ought to proceed to be on suppressing the coronavirus and never residing with it. The emergence of latest, probably extra harmful variants stays a trigger for concern.
Kluge additionally drew consideration to the continued disruption of well being providers, with rising ready lists and disruption to regular care. Disparities in vaccine entry, in the meantime, stay regarding: “Too many individuals who want the vaccine stay unvaccinated. That is serving to to drive transmission, prolonging the pandemic and rising the probability of latest variants,” he mentioned.
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