The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Europe faces a ‘tough’ six months in dealing with Covid-19, with the latest figures reflecting a pandemic-related death every 17 seconds.

Hans Kluge, WHO Europe director, said the continent had recorded more than 29 000 new Covid-19 deaths last week, according to the BBC.

New lockdowns were helping to curb infections, but Europe was ‘once again the epicentre of the pandemic, together with the United States’, he said.

The report said most European countries reintroduced tight restrictions to stem the spread of the disease as a second wave of the pandemic gathered pace in October.

So far, Europe has recorded 15 738 179 infections and 354 154 deaths.

According to the BBC, a large portion of the infections and deaths have been registered in the UK, Russia, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. In Europe, the UK has the highest death toll at 53 870, while France has the highest number of cases at 2 115 717.

Kluge said Europe accounted for 28% of global cases and 26% of deaths. There was particular concern about Switzerland and France, where intensive care units were at 95% capacity.

He said of ongoing vaccine development that ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it will be a tough six months’.

The report said four vaccines – Oxford, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna – had reported good preliminary data.

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