Europe has reported almost two million new Covid-19 infections last week, the largest weekly case count in the continent since the start of the pandemic early last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
There were also almost 27,000 coronavirus-related deaths in Europe, more than half of all the Covid fatalities in the world last week, Xinhua news agency quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying at a press briefing here on Friday.
He said that Covid-19 cases have been surging not only in nations with lower vaccination rates in Eastern Europe but also in countries with some of the world's highest inoculation rates in Western Europe.
According to the WHO's weekly report, during the week of November 1-7, the WHO European Region reported 1,949,419 new cases, a 7 per cent week-on-week increase, while other regions reported declines or stable trends.
Europe's 26,726 new deaths represented a 10 per cent weekly jump, while other regions showed decreasing trends.
Of the European region's 61 countries, 26 reported increases of ten percent or more in the number of new cases in the past week, with the highest numbers coming from Russia, the UK and Turkey.
"Some European countries are now reintroducing restrictions to curb transmission and take the pressure off their health systems," Tedros said.
"We continue to recommend the tailored and proportionate use of testing, masks, physical distancing, measures to prevent crowding, improved ventilation, and more. And get vaccinated when it's your turn. Every country must constantly assess its situation and adjust its approach accordingly," he said.
Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, noted that the surge in cases in Europe was occurring as temperatures were dropping and people were moving back inside with the perception that the pandemic was nearing the end.
What is happening in Europe despite the availability of vaccines is "a warning shot for the world", Ryan said.
"We all have to double down and recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to be the last person in the chain of transmission.
"I think every country now needs to look at its epidemiology, look at protecting its health workforce or its health system and ensure that it can get through the next few months without systems going into collapse again," he added.