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‘Tipping point’ of the pandemic: WHO says 22 European countries have new Covid-19 variant

“We remain in the grip of Covid-19 as cases surge across Europe and we tackle new challenges brought by the mutating virus,” said Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional chief for Europe.

Kluge added that the new variant of the virus, which might be up to 70 percent more transmissible, has already been detected in 22 European countries. 

The regional boss says it is necessary for European leaders to once again “intensify” their fight against the virus. 

“The virus is getting better… and we need to do that too,” added Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the WHO, explaining that bringing down transmission must be the priority. 

Despite the already bleak forecast, Kluge said he anticipated cases number to continue to increase, noting the impact of family gatherings at Christmas and falling test numbers over the festive period. 

The WHO’s assessment of the situation comes as EU nations look to boost their vaccination programs.

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