Europe could soon enter a ceasefire with Covid-19 that can lead to the end of the pandemic, declared Dr Hans Kluge, World Health Organization’s (WHO) Europe director.
“This period of higher protection should be seen as a ceasefire that could bring us enduring peace,” said Dr Kluge. He added that the drop in coronavirus cases can be linked to high vaccination rates, the end of the winter season, and the mild nature of the Omicron variant.
Last week, Europe recorded around 12 million new Covid-19 cases – the highest number ever recorded. However, the number of hospitalizations was significantly lower. According to WHO’s Europe director, the continent would be in a better position in the case of a new more virulent variant than the current one, and countries would not need to reinstall the strict measures they implemented before.
I believe that it is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge without re-installing the kind of disruptive measures we needed before.Hans Kluge, WHO Europe director
Despite the positive news, he also encouraged European countries to continue with their vaccination campaigns and urged a stronger protection of groups at risk, and a drastic increase in the sharing of vaccines across borders to ensure global protection.
Kluge’s statement comes as several European countries end Covid-19 restrictions. England and other UK nations eased Covid-19 rules in January. Last week, Denmark became the first EU nation to lift all restrictions – including the need for face masks. Despite the rapid spread of Omicron, the virus no longer represents a serious threat for the Danish thanks to high vaccination rates, declared experts.
Norway has also announced the relaxation of measures. Sweden will lift most of its domestic restrictions starting February 9, including the requirement for vaccine certificates and masks on public transportation. Some rules will still remain in place, including staying at home in case of Covid-19 symptoms and avoiding crowds if not vaccinated. Some border entry restrictions will also remain in place.
According to official data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, at least 70% of Europe’s total population has been administered two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.