Coronavirus: Europe faces 'six tough months' of pandemic, World Health Organization says

Tanjug  AP

The number of new Covid-19 cases declined last week for the first time in over three months, but deaths in the region continued to climb, World Health Organization data showed on Wednesday. Southeast Asia was the only region that saw a drop in cases and deaths.

The number of coronavirus cases in Europe surpassed the 15 million mark on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region sees a surge in infections with the onset of winter, reporting a million new infections about every four days.

The WHO also noted the United Kingdom was the first country in the region to record more than 50,000 deaths. COVID-19 deaths were up 18% in Europe over the past two weeks, with 4,500 lives now lost daily, he added.

In the German capital of Berlin, violent clashes between those protesting coronavirus restrictions and police erupted on Wednesday near the city centre after protesters disregarded authorities' advice to wear masks and physically distance.

On Tuesday, the pandemic claimed 1,596 lives in the U.S., more than on any single day since 27 July, contributing to a total of 248,898 confirmed deaths since the pandemic began. However, the number of coronavirus deaths increased "substantially" in Europe, to more than 29 thousand.

More than one million of the new cases were seen in the United States, which has counted almost 11 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Switzerland, which has registered some of the highest transmission rates in the world in recent weeks, on Wednesday stepped up government support to help people affected by the virus and by lockdown measures - including a extra 1 billion Swiss francs in state aid - even as case counts eased back from recent peaks.

In Europe, the most pronounced increase in cases was in Austria, with 30% more than the previous week, said WHO.

There are regions within WesternEurope that seem to be overcoming the crisis, particularly the lowlands near the English Channel.

The UK is the first country in Europe to record more than 50,000 deaths.

Belgium reported for the first time a decrease in daily fatalities since the second wave of the pandemic hit the region in the fall. Of every 100 infections last reported worldwide, about 39 were reported from countries in Europe. Cinemas, museums, libraries, zoos and swimming pools are about to be reopened, albeit with limits on the number of people.



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