The World Health Organization (WHO) has reportedly said it is concerned about the spread of Covid-19 in Europe, following the announcement of a full lockdown in Austria.
Half a million more deaths could be recorded by March unless urgent action is taken, regional director Dr Hans Kluge told the BBC, which first reported the news.
The start of the winter season, a more infectious variant of the virus and not enough vaccinations were some of the reasons for the new surge, Dr Kluge said.
Increased vaccine uptake, he said, was needed to help fight the latest resurgence of Covid. Wearing marks could also immediately help slow down the spread too.
Although mandatory vaccinations should be a “last resort”, Dr Kluge suggested that a “societal debate” now would be “very timely” though he said the Covid Pass offered another means of controlling the spread of the virus in the meanwhile.
The news comes as more European countries, including Germany and Greece, have tightened their controls on the unvaccinated as infection rates rise.
Yesterday Austria announced a full national Covid-19 lockdown from Monday lasting 20 days and became the first European country to announce that vaccinations against Covid would become a legal requirement from February.
On Thursday Ireland imposed restrictions forcing people to work from home where possible and bars and restaurants have been ordered to close by midnight.