Covid on the Rise in South and Central Europe

21 Dec, 2020

The European regional office head of WHO, Kluge, stated that despite a slight reduction in Covid cases over the past 21 days, it does not indicate overall safety in the region.

While Western European countries have witnessed a decline in cases, approximately 50% of other nations in the area are experiencing a surge in infections. This is primarily due to the spread of infections from the western parts of the continent to other areas.

Europe accounts for 40% of new global infections and at least 50% of fatalities. In light of this, Kluge emphasized that even in countries experiencing a decrease in cases, stringent measures should continue to be implemented to combat the virus effectively.

As vaccines are on the horizon, Kluge advised nations to ensure the distribution of only federally approved vaccines to their citizens. He also stressed the importance of planning the vaccine distribution process, as a lack of proper planning could lead to unintended negative consequences.

The data on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be reviewed on December 29, 2020, while information on the Moderna vaccine will be reviewed on January 21, 2021. The approval authority for these vaccines is the European Medicines Agency.

Regarding vaccine distribution in Europe, it has been recommended to prioritize the vaccination of elderly individuals, followed by healthcare workers and individuals with specific health conditions. In addition to vaccines, the use of viromasks reusable masks should also be encouraged to further protect public health.

A new strategy implemented in Western Europe is the closure of ski resorts by developed nations like Italy, France, and Germany. However, not all countries have adopted this measure, with Switzerland being an example. Consequently, the French government is making efforts to discourage its citizens from visiting Switzerland for skiing purposes. Austria and Spain are among the countries that appear to align with Switzerland's approach. While many EU-member nations are implementing strict policies ahead of Christmas, it should be noted that Switzerland is not a part of the European Union.

Italy has imposed strict lockdown measures and travel restrictions from December 21 to January 6. In Greece, although there has been a gradual decline in overall cases, the nationwide lockdown has been extended until January 6. Northern Greece, the region hardest hit by the virus, is facing a strain on its healthcare system with hospitals nearing capacity.

Russia, ranked fourth in terms of Covid cases worldwide, is currently under a strict nationwide lockdown. The nation recently reported 28,125 new cases, marking a significant milestone in the country's battle against the virus.