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COVID-19 cases rising in countries that ‘abruptly’ lifted measures, says WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticised several European countries for “abruptly” easing COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the WHO, the number of new COVID-19 cases is still on the rise in 18 of the region’s 53 countries.

Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO Director for Europe, said he was “vigilant” about the current pandemic situation on the continent, but remained “optimistic”.

“The countries where we are seeing a particular increase are the UK, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy and Germany,” Kluge said at a press conference in Moldova.

“These countries have lifted restrictions abruptly from ‘too much’ to ‘not enough’,” he added.

According to WHO data, the number of new infections in Europe had fallen sharply after the end of January but has rebounded since the beginning of March.

Epidemiologists have blamed the rise in cases on the new Omicron sub-variant BA.2, which is about 30% more contagious — but not more dangerous.

In the last seven days, more than 5.1 million new cases and 12,496 deaths have been recorded in WHO Europe.

But Kluge noted that “there is a very high level of immunity” against the virus due to vaccinations rates and previous infections.

“We will have to live with COVID for some time to come, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get rid of the pandemic,” he stated.

The WHO has called on European governments to continue protecting “vulnerable citizens” and provide access to new antiviral drugs for more countries.

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