Europe 'could face more than half a million COVID-19-related deaths'
Linda Kennedy in Budapest


A strong warning about rising COVID-19 deaths has come from the World Health Organization (WHO) as infections hit record levels in many countries, with 1.8 million new infections in one week.

Germany recorded 37,120 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the second consecutive day of record daily infections.

Slovakia reported 6,713 new cases, also a record, while daily new cases in Hungary more than doubled from last week to 6,804 on Friday.



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Poland, Eastern Europe's biggest economy, reported 15,515 daily cases on Thursday, the highest figure since April. Croatia and Slovenia on Thursday both reported record daily infections. 

In the 53 countries classed as the Europe Region, the figures for last week show a 6 percent increase in new cases, with 1.8 million new infections and a 12 percent increase in COVID-19-related deaths.

"The current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern," regional WHO head Hans Kluge said, adding that the spread was exacerbated by the more transmissible Delta variant.

Kluge warned earlier that if Europe followed its current trajectory, there could be 500,000 COVID-19-related deaths in the region by February. 

"We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of COVID-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place," he said.

In Eastern Europe, Romania is the country worst affected by a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, with health facilities overrun. There are now no intensive care beds available for new patients in the country.

Romania last week made wearing face masks in a public place mandatory and has reintroduced a night curfew and made health passes compulsory for entry to most public venues.

The country has the second lowest coronavirus vaccination level in the European Union: just over a third of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Romania, a country of 19.2 million, has recorded more than 1.6 million positive cases and 49,115 coronavirus related deaths, according to data gathered by WHO.

The rapid rise in cases is sparking debate across Europe about reintroducing tougher restrictions before the Christmas holiday season. 

It's also giving fresh impetus to strategies for increasing vaccination numbers.

Hungary has just announced a vaccination action week for the end of November. In Romania, daily inoculation numbers are reaching pandemic highs this month, as citizens respond to dramatic death rates and newly enforced restrictions.

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