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WHO says European COVID rates now highest in children, vaccine mandates should be 'last resort' – ABC News

The World Health Organization's office for Europe says children between five and 14 years old now account for the highest rates of reported COVID-19 infections in the region.
WHO Europe regional director Dr Hans Kluge also argued that vaccine mandates should be "an absolute last resort" and said COVID-19 deaths remained "significantly below previous peaks".
But he said coronavirus cases and deaths had more than doubled in the last two months in the 53-country region.
He stressed the continued threat from the widespread Delta variant, and said there had been 432 confirmed cases of the new Omicron variant, spread across 21 countries in the region.
"The Delta variant remains dominant across Europe and Central Asia, and we know that the COVID-19 vaccines remain effective in reducing severe disease and deaths from it," he said.
"It is yet to be seen how and whether the latest COVID-19 variant of concern, Omicron, will be more transmissible, or more or less severe."
Dr Kluge urged countries to "protect children and the schools" amid the rapid increase in cases among the young in the region, and said the incidence of COVID-19 was two to three times higher among young children than in the average population in some places.
Children have tended to face less severe cases than more vulnerable populations like older people, health care workers and people with weaker immune systems.
"As school holidays approach, we must also acknowledge that children contaminate their parents and grandparents at home, with a 10 times increased risk for these adults to develop severe disease, be hospitalised or die when non-vaccinated," he said.
"The health risks extend beyond the children themselves."
Dr Kluge said vaccination mandates should be an "absolute last resort" and were only effective in some contexts.
WHO's European region has been the global epicentre of the pandemic for weeks, accounting for 70 per cent of cases and 61 per cent of deaths worldwide, according to the UN health agency's weekly epidemiological report issued last week.
AP
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