Copenhagen / Geneva (dpa) – The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have spoken out vehemently against further school closures in the European region.
Children have suffered “massively” over the past 20 months, WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said at a press conference in Copenhagen on Monday. At the same time, Kluge warned of a sharp rise in corona infections. As of December 1 alone, 236,000 deaths from Covid-19 are expected in the European region, according to the Belgian.
The forecasts, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, cover 53 countries in Europe, including Russia, the Caucasus and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. The increase in the number of infections is particularly strong in the countries of the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The highly contagious Delta variant, the relaxation of corona measures in many countries and the increase in travel during the summer are mainly responsible for the increase in corona numbers, Kluge continued.
“Do not accumulate vaccines!”
According to the WHO, measures to keep schools open include offers of immunization for teachers and children from the age of twelve, good ventilation in classrooms, smallest possible classes, maintaining the distance and regular testing. “The pandemic has caused the ‘most catastrophic interruption of schooling in history,’ Kluge said. In addition to the usual learning materials, the functioning of the school is absolutely important for mental health and social skills. minors Schools have made children happy and productive members of society.
WHO is also concerned about a slowdown in vaccination campaigns. So far, around half of the region’s population has been vaccinated. But over the past six weeks, the pace has slowed down, Kluge said. The background is inadequate vaccine production, lack of access and insufficient acceptance. Middle- and low-income countries in particular have yet to catch up with an immunization rate of just six percent. Sometimes only one in ten health workers are fully immunized there. The Belgian urged wealthy countries in the region not to wait until the expiration date is near before donating excess vaccine doses. “Don’t rack up vaccines,” Kluge said.
The WHO regional director called on health authorities in member countries to introduce “tailor-made interventions at the local level” to increase acceptance. “Skepticism about vaccines and denial of science are keeping us from coming to grips with this crisis, are useless and are not good for anyone.”