NEW DELHI: Lockdowns, spiraling cases and a vaccine divide is framing the start of Europes second COVID-19 pandemic winter, bringing chaos to eastern European countries and uncertainty to those in the West, CNN reported on Monday.
Despite the widescale availability of vaccines this winter compared to the last, Europe is the only part of the world reporting an increase in new COVID-19 cases globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week. This is the third consecutive week the region has recorded a rise in cases, it added.
The suffering has been acute in Eastern Europe and Russia, battling mounting deaths and cases fuelled by vaccine hesitancy that has seen coverage rates dip as low as 24 per cent, as per the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
On october 21, Latvia became the first country in the European Union to impose a lockdown as the country struggles with a spike in cases amid low vaccination uptake.
Only 56 per cent of all adults have had both doses of the jab compared to the EU average of 74.6 per cent. Western Europe is also driving the rise in COVID-19 cases despite some countries enjoying near universal vaccine coverage, the report said.
Germany's COVID incidence rate rose to 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants on Saturday for the first time since May.
Belgium, alongside Ireland, is seeing one of the highest case rates in Western Europe, according to the ECDC, of 325.76 and 432.84 per 100,00 people respectively.
Belgium's Health Minister Frank Vandenbrouck told broadcaster VRT that the country was in a fourth wave. (IANS)