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Covid chaos grips the East and uncertainty haunts the West. Europe is entering its second pandemic winter

Lockdowns, spiraling cases and a vaccine divide is framing the start of Europe’s second pandemic winter, bringing chaos to eastern European countries and uncertainty to those in the West.

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 Wednesday. 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 fueled by vaccine hesitancy that has seen coverage rates dip as low as 24%, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Last Thursday, 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% of all adults have had both doses of the jab compared to the EU average of 74.6%. Western Europe is also driving the rise in Covid-19 cases despite some countries enjoying near universal vaccine coverage. 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 Wednesday that the country was in a fourth wave. More than 85% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, and officials say the vast majority of hospitalized Covid-19 patients were unjabbed, Reuters reported.The differing vaccination rates have put Europe’s East and West on two separate tracks, but what they share is case rates driven higher by the relaxation of pandemic restrictions as economies open, cold weather driving people indoors, and the highly transmissible Delta variant, now the dominant strain in the region, Dr. Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in England, told CNN.

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Covid chaos grips the East and uncertainty haunts the West. Europe is entering its second pandemic winter

Lockdowns, spiraling cases and a vaccine divide is framing the start of Europe’s second pandemic winter, bringing chaos to eastern European countries and uncertainty to those in the West.

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 Wednesday. 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 fueled by vaccine hesitancy that has seen coverage rates dip as low as 24%, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Last Thursday, 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% of all adults have had both doses of the jab compared to the EU average of 74.6%. Western Europe is also driving the rise in Covid-19 cases despite some countries enjoying near universal vaccine coverage. 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 Wednesday that the country was in a fourth wave. More than 85% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, and officials say the vast majority of hospitalized Covid-19 patients were unjabbed, Reuters reported.The differing vaccination rates have put Europe’s East and West on two separate tracks, but what they share is case rates driven higher by the relaxation of pandemic restrictions as economies open, cold weather driving people indoors, and the highly transmissible Delta variant, now the dominant strain in the region, Dr. Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in England, told CNN.

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