Deaths and hospitalizations from Covid-19 will continue to rise in Europe in the coming weeks as vaccination rates remain insufficient to counter the trends, a key European health agency warned Tuesday.
European countries have taken a varying set of measures to combat the spread of the virus, including lockdowns for the unvaccinated and early closing for restaurants and bars. But Andrea Ammon, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said the count is still growing.
"In the coming weeks, there will be increasing parameters of cases, deaths, hospitalization and ICU admissions," she told a meeting of EU health ministers in Brussels. "The omicron variant, that makes the whole situation even more worrying."
The ECDC said it has recorded at least 274 omicron cases in 19 European countries. The agency added that there have yet to be reports of severe illness or death, but it's still too early to draw conclusions from that.
EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that six EU nations still have overall vaccination rates below 55 per cent.
Austria confirmed Tuesday that it is ending a nationwide lockdown this weekend for people who've been inoculated against Covid-19 or have recovered from the virus, while continuing to limit participation in public life for those who refuse to be vaccinated.
Poland on Tuesday moved to online schooling over an extended holiday period and mandated vaccinations for health-care workers and teachers.
The omicron variant has injected broader uncertainty for the continent, with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health warning it could become the dominant strain in the country over the course of some weeks.