As the Omicron variant continues to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases, leading scientists have urged EU countries to take a collaborative approach to curb the spread.
In an article published in the British Medical Journal, the group of 30 health professionals and researchers wrote that they have called for EU member states to “show that they can work together in ways that they have not always done before.”
This follows a prediction from the WHO that half of Europeans will be infected with Omicron within the next six to eight weeks if the variant continues spreading at its current speed.
In the first week of 2022 alone, there were over 7 million reported infections in Europe, with the number doubling over a two-week period.
“As of 10 January, 26 countries report that over one percent of their population is catching COVID-19 each week,” said Dr. Kluge, WHO Europe’s regional director, at a news conference on Tuesday.
Concerns over the number of new infections
The scientists say that it’s crucial for EU countries to reduce the number of infections to protect the public and struggling healthcare systems, and for keeping the economy open.
Some of the measures they have suggested for this include mask mandates, encouraging home working as much as possible, and avoiding large indoor gatherings.
In addition to this, as COVID-19 is airborne, they suggest taking steps to improve indoor ventilation, as this could protect people from the virus, as well as other health problems.
The authors of the article suggest that European countries should coordinate to set out common guidance for how to make indoor spaces safer by improving ventilation standards.
They also argue that European countries need to start planning for new variants that might emerge in the future.
The article says, “Europe also needs to do more to make the world safe. This includes additional support for Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) and the COVID-19 Vaccine Access Facility (COVAX), as well as withdrawal of opposition to measures that would facilitate manufacturing in low and middle-income countries”
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