According to press reports, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that half of Europe will be infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 within six to eight weeks.
Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, says a west-to-east tidal wave of Omicron was sweeping across the region, on top of the surge of the Delta variant.
The projection is based on the seven million new cases reported across Europe in the first week of 2022.
The number of infections has more than doubled in a two-week period.
Recent studies suggest that Omicron is less likely to make people seriously ill than previous COVID-19 variants.
But Omicron is still highly contagious and can infect people even if they are fully vaccinated.
The record number of people catching it has left health systems under severe strain.
The UK on Monday reported a further 142,224 confirmed cases of the virus and 77 deaths.
A number of hospitals have declared critical incidents due to staff absences and rising pressures caused by COVID-19.
Edited by Jesus Chan
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