New corona variant: WHO reports increasing numbers in Europe

Current data from the WHO indicate an increasing spread of the new corona variant in Europe. An assessment of potential consequences is still pending.

According to WHO information, the subline XBB.1.5 of the coronavirus variant Omicron is also on the rise in Europe. Recent data from some countries in the region were beginning to point to the increasing presence of XBB.1.5, WHO Regional Office Europe director Hans Kluge said at an online press conference in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Cases would be discovered in small but growing numbers. We are working to assess the potential impact of this. After three long years of the pandemic, one cannot afford any further pressure on the health systems.

Health Minister is concerned

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had expressed concern last week about the new variant, which was first noticed in the north-east of the USA in October and has dominated the infection process there since mid-December. The Bremen epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb had said that it was relatively safe to say that XBB.1.5 would also become the dominant variant in Germany in the coming months. But there is no cause for great concern.

Experts calm down in view of danger from China

With regard to the aggravated corona situation in China, Kluge shared the current assessment of the EU health authority ECDC that the increase in the number of cases there is unlikely to have a major impact on the epidemiological situation in Europe. According to available information, the variants circulating in China are those that have been seen in Europe and elsewhere.

However, one should not become complacent, said Kluge. It is not unreasonable for countries to take precautionary measures to protect their populations. However, states that introduce precautionary travel measures should ensure that these are science-based, appropriate and non-discriminatory.

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