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WHO warns of 700,000. More COVID-19 deaths in Europe in March

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidelines in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Countries across Europe are facing another rise in coronavirus cases. This could result in another 700,000 deaths by March 1 If current trends continue, the WHO announced on Tuesday.

More than 1.5 million people have already passed away from COVID-19 in the 53 countries that make up the World Health Organization’s European region. This means that the death toll could increase to 2.2 million by 2022.

Europe “remains firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic” the WHO said, noting that coronavirus is the most common cause of death in Europe and Central Asia. Between this time and March, the intensive-care units in 49 of 53 countries will be subject to “high or extreme stress.”

The WHO reported more than 2.4 million new cases in the region this week. This represented 67% of all COVID-19-related cases in the world. Nearly 4,200 deaths per day were reported, nearly double the 2,100 daily deaths reported at the end.

According to to Reuters, France reported more COVID-19 cases than 30,000 on Tuesday. This is the first time since August that France has had this many cases in 24 hour intervals. Daily cases are up 54% when compared to the previous week. The week-to-week growth is approximately 50 percent for 11 consecutive days.

“That is a huge increase in the infection rate, which shows that we really are, unfortunately, in a fifth wave of the epidemic,” Olivier Veran, the health minister of the country, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Germany also set a pandemic record on Monday, with a seven-day average of more than 51,000 new cases per day, according to CNBC. Russia recorded a record number of 1,200 deaths per day for the week that ended on Monday.

The WHO said the latest wave is being driven by a variety of things: the more virulent Delta variant, people moving inside due to colder temperatures and the ease of restrictions, and slow vaccination rates in certain countries.

About 53 percent of the population is fully vaccinated in the WHO’s European region, however rates vary from 10% to more than 80% across different countries. Some countries in the eastern region have lower rates than other countries, with 24% of the population fully immunized in Bulgaria, compared to 87 percent in Portugal and 78 percent in Demark, 71 percent, 71% and 65% in Germany and Austria.

“As we get closer to the end of 2021 Let’s do what we can to get vaccinations and taking personal protection measures to avoid the last option of school closures and lockdowns,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe in the WHO statement.

Some countries are taking innovative measures to stop the spread of the virus. According to The New York Times, Austria went into lockdown Monday for at minimum 10 days. This included the closure of all restaurants, shops and markets for the holiday season. The Netherlands was also in partial lockdown during the weekend. Germany may announce additional restrictions this week.

According to BBC The BBC, several countries are also approving booster shots for fully-vaccinated individuals. This includes France, Germany, and Greece. The evidence is proving that vaccine protection is waning and cases of breakthrough are becoming more commonplace according to the WHO who urged countries to approve booster doses for vulnerable groups health professionals, and older people.

Europe and Central Asia face “a challenging winter ahead,” Kluge said. He suggested a “vaccine plus” strategy, which includes having a vaccination, adhering to physical distancing guidelines, and wearing masks.

The WHO stated that face masks reduce the spread of coronavirus by 53%. This could mean a reduction of more than 160,000 deaths by March 1.

The U.S. State Department responded to the European growth in travel by adding Germany and Denmark to its “Do Not Travel”, which is the most dangerous category of travel according to The Washington Post.

The Level 4 designation means that both the CDC and State Department recommend against traveling to these countries, even though people are vaccination-free. Last week, the State Department and the CDC both added the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, and Slovakia to the Level 4 List.


World Health Organization: “The WHO European Region could hit more than 2 million deaths from COVID-19 in March 2022. This grim date is avoidable by taking action now.

Reuters: “New French CoVID-19 Infections Increase to 30,000 within the Last 24 Hours”

CNBC: “European and Central Asia could witness another 700,000.00 Covid deaths by spring, WHO warns.”

The New York Times: “Vaccinated, Recovered or Dead”: Europe Fights Covid Wave – and Itself.

BBC: “Covid”: Europe’s region faces 700,000. More deaths to come by March WHO

The Washington Post: “CDC moves Germany to ‘do NOT travel list.”

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