Coronavirus deaths in Europe rose 10% in the first week of this month and made up over half of the 48,000 coronavirus deaths reported globally in that time, even as new cases and deaths dropped or remained stable in the rest of the world, according to World Health Organization figures released this week.

The highest number of deaths were recorded in Russia, which has reported record COVID-19 tolls in recent weeks, followed by Ukraine and Romania. The numbers of new infections were highest in Russia, Britain and Turkey, according to the WHO figures.

Europe accounted for about two-thirds of the world’s 3.1 million new reported cases that week, the agency’s report said, and officials in hard-hit countries are weighing new restrictions to try to quell the outbreaks as winter approaches.

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In Germany, where about 67% of the population is fully vaccinated against the virus, tens of thousands of new cases are being reported every day, the country’s highest caseloads since the pandemic began. Several of its states are now working on new regulations to introduce mask mandates and require proof of vaccination or past infection for entry to some venues.

Health experts in the Netherlands, where about 68% of people are fully vaccinated, have also called for more coronavirus restrictions as cases there put hospitals under strain. This month, authorities reimposed requirements for the wearing of face masks in indoor public spaces and required coronavirus passes detailing vaccine status or past infections for entry.


In Romania, where only about 40% of the population is fully vaccinated, coronavirus deaths have hit record levels and intensive care units have been left strained.

Several deadly fires at the country’s hospitals have also added to the tragedy. On Thursday, two patients died when a blaze broke out at a hospital that was treating COVID-19 patients in the city of Ploiesti, officials said, adding that the cause of the fire was not yet known. At least 20 people have died in such blazes at Romania’s hospitals since the pandemic began.

And in England, where the government is accelerating a program of booster vaccination shots in the hopes of stemming rising case numbers, the government has mandated vaccines for front-line health workers starting next spring. Officials have pushed back against calls for another lockdown, but said that they would consider imposing more coronavirus restrictions if necessary.

The trend in Europe is at odds with the trajectory of other regions: The rate of new reported COVID-19 deaths worldwide decreased 4% in the first week of November, according to the WHO, while the rate of new infections remained stable.

In total, over 249 million cases and more than 5 million COVID-19 deaths have been reported since the pandemic began.