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WHO warns of challenging winter in Europe due to pandemic

Saeed Pourreza

Press TV, London

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of difficult months ahead for Europe and Central Asia caused by rising Covid-19 infection and death rates. Some scientists are putting the situation down to low vaccine uptake and lax preventive measures.

The warning came from Denmark-based WHO-Europe; hundreds of thousands of more Covid deaths in the next few months, topping two million in total. Archive people in hospital with Covid on public transport with or without masks (bus + tube) show crowded places with no social distancing.

The culprit the highly transmissible Delta variant, fueled by a widespread relaxation of preventive measures, such as mask wearing and physical distancing. Here in England, for example, where more than 50 million people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, mask wearing is no longer a legal requirement but highly recommended and at times demanded. Still a lot of people ignore it. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized for not wearing one on more than one occasion.

And as cases rise, so does the stress on hospitals already under pressure. In the UK, a result of years of underfunding. The average vaccination rate in Europe is 60 percent; in the east of the continent, it’s half that. Austria has already gone into lockdown. Other countries are thinking whether they should do the same.

There were protests this weekend, some of them violent in the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Belgium. The restriction versus civil liberties debate is back. With ongoing Covid costs to national economies and soaring gas prices many Europeans say they need to be free to work and play. EU governments say that’s why they’re acting now: to save the upcoming holidays as well as public health.

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