The World Health Organization (WHO) appeals to authorities of countries in Eastern Europe to improve vaccination rates and other measures, as a new wave of the Omicron variant is observed in the region.
Over the past two weeks, cases of Covid-19 have more than doubled in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.Hans Kluge, WHO’s Europe regional director
Several countries, among which the Czech Republic and Poland, have suggested they intend to ease the restrictions against Covid-19, but WHO believes this would be a rushed decision. They insisted that rapid testing and the wearing of masks are still necessary measures considering that in the past week the number of covid related deaths was 25,000, with a total number of cases recorded in the WHO European region exceeding 165 million.
Faced with the Omicron tidal wave, and with Delta still circulating widely in the east, this worrying situation is not the moment to lift measures that we know work in reducing the spread of Covid-19.Hans Kluge, WHO’s Europe regional director
WHO’s regional director, Hans Kluge urges governments to analyse the reasons behind the low vaccination rates, taking into account that in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, less than 40% of the population over 60 years has received a full vaccination scheme. Furthermore, Bulgaria, Georgia and North Macedonia are at an even greater risk since the rate of health-care workers having received more than one dose of the vaccine is less than 40%. Subsequent to such analyses, he asked the local authorities to implement better vaccination campaigns, specifically designed to tackle the low demand and acceptance of vaccines.
He ended on a hopeful note, highlighting again that the measures known to reduce the infection rate (immunisation either through infection, or, preferably, through vaccination; limitation of social contacts in indoor or poorly ventilated places; proper wearing of face mask), still applicable in the west, as well as the east of the continent, should bring at least a “respite” for all of us.