WHO urges the public to practice Covid mitigation tactics – including masking and distancing – regardless of vaccination status as cases surge across Europe heading into the holiday season.Some countries and communities have been lured into a “false sense of security” that the pandemic’s over and the vaccinated are fully protected against Covid, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters during an update Wednesday in Geneva.
He noted that Covid vaccines “save lives” and lower the risk of severe disease and death, but the vaccinated can still contract and spread the virus as social mixing returns to pre-pandemic levels.Tedros said that even if you’re vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself and infecting someone else who could die. That means wearing a mask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds, and meeting others outside if you can or in a well-ventilated space inside.
Tedros called Europe the pandemic’s epicenter, with unsustainable pressure” facing both health-care systems and personnel. Europe represented 67% of the world’s total new Covid cases during the week ended Nov. 21 with more than 2.4 million infections, an 11% increase from the previous seven days, according to the WHO most recent weekly epidemiological update.
The WHO office covering Europe and Central Asia said Tuesday that those regions have surpassed a combined 1.5 million Covid deaths and could suffer 700,000 more fatalities by March 2022. The organization expects that intensive care units in 49 of the region’s 53 countries could experience high or extreme stress over the next four months.