Europe had over half the world's Covid-19 deaths early in November

Covid-19 deaths have hit record levels and intensive care units have been left strained in Romania. PHOTO: NYTIMES

GENEVA (NYTIMES) - Coronavirus deaths in Europe rose 10 per cent in the first week of this month and made up over half of the 48,000 coronavirus deaths reported globally in that time, even as new cases and deaths dropped or remained stable in the rest of the world, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures released this week.

The highest number of deaths were recorded in Russia, which has reported record Covid-19 tolls in recent weeks, followed by Ukraine and Romania.

The numbers of new infections were highest in Russia, Britain and Turkey, according to the WHO figures.

Europe accounted for about two-thirds of the world's 3.1 million new reported cases that week, the agency's report said, and officials in hard-hit countries are weighing new restrictions to try to quell the outbreaks as winter approaches.

In Germany, where about 67 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, tens of thousands of new cases are being reported every day, the country's highest caseloads since the pandemic began.

Several of its states are now working on new regulations to introduce mask mandates and require proof of vaccination or past infection for entry to some venues.

Health experts in the Netherlands, where about 68 per cent of people are fully vaccinated, have also called for more Covid-19 restrictions as cases there put hospitals under strain. This month, the authorities reimposed requirements for the wearing of face masks in indoor public spaces and required coronavirus passes detailing vaccine status or past infections for entry.

In Romania, where only about 40 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, Covid-19 deaths have hit record levels and intensive care units have been left strained.

Several deadly fires at the country's hospitals have also added to the tragedy.

On Thursday (Nov 11), two patients died when a blaze broke out at a hospital that was treating Covid-19 patients in the city of Ploiesti, officials said, adding that the cause of the fire was not yet known. At least 20 people have died in such blazes at Romania's hospitals since the pandemic began.

And in England, where the government is accelerating a programme of booster vaccination shots in the hope of stemming rising case numbers, the government has mandated vaccines for front-line health workers starting next spring.

Officials have pushed back against calls for another lockdown, but said that they would consider imposing more Covid-19 restrictions if necessary.

The trend in Europe is at odds with the trajectory of other regions: The rate of new reported Covid-19 deaths worldwide decreased 4 per cent in the first week of November, according to the WHO, while the rate of new infections remained stable.

In total, over 250 million cases and more than five million Covid-19 deaths have been reported since the pandemic began.

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