The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that Europe was the only region across the globe where the coronavirus cases and deaths were increasing steadily, AP reported.

The health body said that of the 31 lakh new coronavirus cases registered across the world this week, 19 lakh infections were recorded in Europe alone. The deaths across Europe had increased by 10% over the last week, the health body added.

The highest cases in Europe were recorded in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Germany on Thursday recorded 33,949 new coronavirus cases – the country’s highest since the pandemic struck in January 2020, AFP reported. The country’s ministers blamed low vaccination rates for the surge.

World Health Organization’s Europe Director Dr Hans Kluge had said last week that Europe was “at the epicentre of the pandemic”, AP reported. He had warned that the region could see five lakh more deaths if precautions were not taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In the American continent, the World Health Organization said that new weekly cases fell by 5% and deaths declined by 14%.

The United States of America recorded 74,834 new coronavirus cases – the highest in the world – on Wednesday, The New York Times reported. Disease Control and Prevention said that unvaccinated people are at a much greater risk of death from coronavirus.

In Southeast Asia and Africa, coronavirus deaths declined by 33%, despite many countries in the region facing a shortage of vaccines, AP reported.

Syringe shortage

The World Health Organization on Tuesday said that there could be a shortage of up to two billion syringes needed to administer coronavirus vaccinations in 2022, Reuters reported. The health body added that the shortage could affect other immunisation programmes as well.

“We could have a global shortage of immunisation syringes that could, in turn, lead to serious problems such as slowing down immunisation efforts as well as safety concerns,” World Health Organization senior advisor Lisa Hedman said at a United Nations briefing.

She added that the governments should plan according to their needs in advance to avoid “hoarding and panic buying” that was witnessed during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Hedman said that the shortage could also encourage the unsafe reusing of syringes and needles in poorer countries.

The World Health Organization expert claimed the world can manufacture six billion syringes each year. She claimed that this year, 6.8 billion coronavirus vaccinations were administered globally.

“That means the world could face a shortage of up to two billion syringes next year unless more factories are shifted to producing the right kind of device for shots,” Hedman said. “If we shift capacity from one type of syringe to another or attempt to expand capacity for specialised immunisation syringes, it takes time and investment.”

Meanwhile, an investigation by in October showed that the international community was concerned after the Indian government banned the export of syringes.

Indian manufacturers export syringes to 149 countries, many of which are dependent on these instruments for Covid-19 vaccinations and other medical needs.