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Covid-19: restrictions lifted too “brutally” in France and elsewhere in Europe, according to the WHO


France is currently facing a rebound in Covid-19 contaminations and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is partly its fault. The body considers that, like other European countries, France has lifted its anti-Covid measures too “brutally”.

During a press conference relocated to Moldova, this Tuesday, March 22, the director of the WHO in Europe, Hans Kluge, targeted several countries in which “a particular increase”, in particular linked to the BA.2 sub-variant, has been recorded.

The United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy and Germany have thus “raised the restrictions brutally from “too much” to “not enough””, underlined the UN official. According to the health organization, the number of Covid cases is currently on the rise in 18 of the 53 countries in the WHO Europe zone. Hans Kluge thus said he was “vigilant” regarding the epidemic situation on the continent, while claiming to remain “optimistic”.

The figures show that the number of new cases in Europe had however fallen sharply after a peak at the end of January, but it has rebounded since the beginning of March. The predominance of the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant is particularly singled out by epidemiologists. It is said to be around 30% more contagious than its predecessor, BA.1, but no more dangerous.

Over the past seven days, more than 5.1 million new cases and 12,496 deaths have been recorded in the WHO Europe area, bringing the total number of cases detected since the start of the pandemic to nearly 194.4 million and the number deaths to more than 1.92 million.

“Protecting the Vulnerable”

On a more positive note, Hans Kluge pointed to the “very large capital of immunity […] whether it is through vaccination or infections”, adding that “winter is ending so people will gather less in small confined spaces”. Not to mention that the Omicron variant “is less virulent in people fully vaccinated with a booster dose”.

Still, “in countries with low vaccination, it’s always a disease that kills,” said the UN official. According to him, therefore, it is a question of focusing on four priorities: “protecting the vulnerable”, “strengthening surveillance and sequencing”, “providing more countries with access to new antiviral drugs” and “addressing the burden post-Covid or long Covid”.

After two years of health crisis, Hans Kluge asks countries to hold on: “We are going to have to live with Covid for a while, but that does not mean that we cannot get rid of the pandemic”.