Several countries are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 case numbers and deaths as a fourth wave sweeps across the continent with concerns more nations could be affected.
Infections have spiked in Germany where it recorded more than 30,000 cases in a 24-hour reporting period, Austria has been plunged back into at least a 10 day lockdown after a rise in cases, sparking protests, and vaccine hesitancy in countries such as Romania where only 37 per cent are double dosed, have raised concerns.
Daily figures have also risen in Belgium, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland and the Czech Republic. Britain reported more than 40,000 cases daily in the last few days.
WHO said there were three main factors driving high transmission rates across large cities and communities: the transmissibility of the Delta variant, an easing of safety measures across dozens of nations seeing coronavirus as no longer an “emergency threat” and low levels of vaccination.
The World Health Organisation fears the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Europe could hit 2.2 million by spring next year due to three factors. Picture: Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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The organisation is also predicting a “high or extreme stress” on hospital beds in 25 European countries.
“High or extreme stress” will also be felt in hospital intensive care units in 49 out of 53 nations.
COVID-19 is still the number one cause of death in Europe and central Asia.
Europe recently passed 1.5 million deaths from 53 countries in the region.
Thousands in Europe protest COVID-19 restrictions as case numbers rise
WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, advised more than 748 million residents across the continent to roll their sleeves up ahead of the colder months and to ensure they were following COVID-safe protocols such as social distancing, sanitising and wearing a face mask. 
“In order to live with this virus and continue our daily lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach. This means getting the standard doses of vaccine, taking a booster if offered, as well as incorporating preventive measures into our normal routines,” he said.
“As we approach the end of 2021, let’s do everything we can by getting vaccinated and taking personal protective measures to avoid the last resort of lockdowns and school closures.
“We know through bitter experience that these have extensive economic consequences and a pervasive negative impact on mental health, facilitate personal violence and are detrimental to children’s well-being and learning.”
WHO have urged more than 750 million residents across Europe to maintain COVID-safe protocols such as wearing a face mask, social distancing and sanitising. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images
More than one billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered but it only equates to 53.5 per cent of the continent double dosed.
Booster shots have been advised for those who are immunocompromised and people aged over 60 as well as those on the frontline in hospitals, pharmacies and employees across other health facilities.
WHO has urged governments to acknowledge and address the reasons as to why vaccine hesitancy remained high and work closely with scientists to alleviate any concerns for communities.

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