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Delta variant on track to be dominant COVID-19 strain in Europe by August: WHO

Click to play video: 'Delta variant on track to be dominant COVID-19 strain in Europe by August: WHO' Delta variant on track to be dominant COVID-19 strain in Europe by August: WHO
WATCH: Delta variant on track to be dominant COVID-19 strain in Europe by August: WHO – Jul 1, 2021

The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office says a 10-week drop in COVID-19 cases in the region has ended, and warned that a new wave could loom unless people “remain disciplined” and more people get vaccinated.

Click to play video: 'Rapid rise of Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variant cases' Rapid rise of Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variant cases
Rapid rise of Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variant cases – Jun 25, 2021

Read more: Israel reports highest daily COVID-19 cases in 3 months

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Dr. Hans Kluge on Thursday cited a 10 per cent increase in infection numbers over the last week because of “increased mixing, travel, gatherings, and easing of social restrictions.” He cautioned that the highly transmissible delta variant is on track to be the dominant one by August in the 53-country region.

Some 63 percent of people in the region haven’t had a first vaccine jab, he said.

Click to play video: 'Delta COVID-19 variant becoming globally dominant: WHO' Delta COVID-19 variant becoming globally dominant: WHO
Delta COVID-19 variant becoming globally dominant: WHO – Jun 18, 2021

“The three conditions for a new wave of excess hospitalizations and deaths before the autumn are therefore in place: New variants, deficit in vaccine uptake, increased social mixing,” he told reporters from Copenhagen, Denmark.

“There will be a new wave in the WHO European region unless we remain disciplined, and even more so when there is much less rules in place to follow, and unless we all take the vaccine without hesitating when it is our turn,” he added.

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Read more: Delta variant to account for 90% of COVID-19 cases in EU by end-August

Kluge said people who want to travel and gather over the summer should continue “life-saving reflexes” like wearing masks. WHO Europe says people should make sure they get both doses of double-jab vaccines for maximum effectiveness.

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Dr. Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer at WHO Europe, warned governments not to lift social distancing measures amid increased transmission. She said any such lifting should be accompanied by stronger public-health measures; sharing and sequencing information on new variants; testing; and reinforcing contact tracing.

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