Home / News / World /  Dont 'relax': WHO warns on covid ahead of winter

The World Health Organization on Monday emphasised the need to be attentive as winter approaches due to the increase in COVID and influenza infections in Europe, which is prompting more people to get immunised.

WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference, "This is not a time to relax."

According to Kluge, the Covid-19 pandemic was once again centred in the 53 nations that make up the WHO Europe area, which also includes Russia and countries in Central Asia. These nations accounted for roughly 60% of all new Covid cases worldwide.

At the same time, cases of the seasonal influenza are peaking.

The WHO emphasised the connection between immunisation programmes and the fact that with this latest wave of Covid, deaths and admissions to intensive care are not rising to the same extent as past waves.

"Vaccination remains one of our most effective tools against both flu and Covid-19," Kluge said, urging those eligible to get jabs for both the influenza and booster shot for Covid-19 as soon as possible.

World Polio Day

The WHO also observed World Polio Day on Monday (24 October)Hans Kluge, World health organisation, WHO, Covid 19, influenza, Siddhartha Datta, World Polio Day, Polio. Polio is a disease that primarily affects very young children, causes paralysis, and has all but disappeared in the western world.

However, a modified strain of the polio virus originating from oral polio vaccines has recently been found in the US, UK, Ukraine, and Israel.

Though this variety is less virulent than the original virus, it can nevertheless have serious side effects, including limb paralysis in patients who have not had vaccinations.

While rare, the variant has become more common in recent years due to low vaccination rates in some communities.

"I think it's important that we understand that anywhere in the globe if we left people behind, the polio virus is a very good barometer to tell us who are they," WHO Europe expert Siddhartha Datta told reporters.

Datta, explained that no matter the locale, the populations affected were those who were "underserved," meaning that they had not received enough vaccinations for a variety of reasons to meet the goal of 95% coverage.

No cases of the natural polio virus have been reported in Europe for more than 20 years.

"This is not something we can take for granted," Kluge said.

Between 2019 and 2020, there was a 1% decline in the region's coverage of the third dose of the polio vaccine. Only 25 of the 53 nations had 95% vaccination coverage for polio by 2021.

(With inputs from AFP)

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