Europe only region with increasing COVID deaths last week: WHO

UN health agency has warned there could be 500,000 more COVID deaths by February if urgent actions not taken on the continent.

Of the 3.3 million new COVID-19 infections reported worldwide last week, 2.1 million came from Europe, according to the WHO [Vadim Ghirda/AP]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Europe was the only region in the world where COVID-related deaths increased last week after a rise of 5 percent.

In its weekly report on the pandemic issued on Tuesday, the WHO also said cases jumped 6 percent globally, driven by a rise in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

WHO said COVID-19 deaths in all regions other than Europe remained stable or declined last week, totalling 50,000 worldwide.

Of the 3.3 million new infections reported, 2.1 million came from Europe, it said.

It was the seventh consecutive week that COVID-19 cases continued to mount across the 61 countries that WHO counts in its European region, which stretches through Russia to Central Asia.

While about 60 percent of people in Western Europe are fully immunised against COVID-19, only about half as many are vaccinated in the eastern part of the continent, where officials are struggling to overcome widespread vaccine hesitancy.

The WHO said infections have been falling in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia since July.

Within Europe, WHO said the highest numbers of new cases were in Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom. It noted that deaths jumped by 67 percent in Norway and by 38 percent in Slovakia.

The health agency previously described Europe as the epicentre of the continuing pandemic and warned that there could be 500,000 more deaths by February if urgent actions are not taken on the continent.

In the last week, Austria put tight restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated people, the Netherlands and some other European countries reintroduced lockdown measures, and the UK decided to roll out booster doses to everyone over 40.

Source: AP