In Denmark Omicron cases have “exploded in recent weeks”, the Covid-19 hospitalisation rate for unvaccinated patients during Christmas week had been six times higher than for those who were fully vaccinated.

A west-to-east “tidal wave” of Omicron infections risks submerging health systems across Europe, the World Health Organization has said, warning that more than half the region’s population will be infected with the variant in the next two months, reports the Guardian.

Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director, said the region had recorded more than 7 million new cases in the first week of 2022, double the rate of a fortnight previously, with more than 1% of the population catching Covid-19 each week in 26 countries.

Kluge said the variant had been reported in 50 of the Europe region’s 53 states and was becoming dominant in western Europe. “At this rate, more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks,” he said – a scale of transmission he described as unprecedented.

The variant would hit hardest where inoculation rates were lower, such as central and eastern Europe, Kluge predicted, saying he was “deeply concerned” that as Omicron moved east, “we have yet to see its full impact in countries where vaccination uptake is lower, and where we’ll see more severe disease in the unvaccinated”.

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