İrem UZUN -TDO- The World Health Organization said Thursday it was “particularly worried” about the COVID-19 situation in the Balkans and Central Europe, noting that hospitalizations and deaths were among the highest in the world. “We are particularly worried about the epidemiological situation in the Balkans, as well as many other countries around Central Europe,” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO’s European office, told a news conference.
"The current situation is most acute in parts of the region that were successful in controlling the disease in the first six months of 2020," Hans Kluge, WHO director of Europe, said in an online news conference. "It is in Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Baltic states where case incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths are now among the highest in the world." He said case incidence has continued to increase and is moving eastwards, with more than 1.2 million new infections reported across Europe last week. “Last week, new deaths in the region surpassed 900,000. Every week, more than 20,000 people lose their lives to the virus.”
Though many countries around Europe are currently under “a partial or full nationwide lockdown,” Kluge said some were starting to lift restrictions based on the assumption that increased vaccination “would immediately lead to an improved epidemiological situation.” “Such assumptions are too early to make,” Kluge said. The regional director however also stressed that vaccines would eventually offer a way out of the pandemic. “Vaccines work, and will eventually allow a return to a new normal,” Kluge said.