In its latest epidemiological update, the WHO said that there was a “downward trend” in the number of cases in the region, but cautioned that it is still the largest contributor of new cases and deaths globally.
The number of new cases reported in Europe dropped by about six per cent in the past week, after a 10 per cent decline the previous week, said the WHO, suggesting that lockdowns imposed across the continent are effectively slowing transmission.
However, the region still accounts for 44 per cent of new global cases and 49 per cent of new global deaths. Some 32,684 deaths have been reported in Europe in the past week.
Italy reported the highest number of new cases in Europe in the past seven days, with 235,979 infections, but the WHO believed cases may have peaked in the country as a slight (3 per cent) decline from the previous week was recorded.
In the UK, new cases fells by 13 per cent from the previous week to 149,027 cases, marking the country’s first weekly decline since late August. The number of hospital admissions in the UK has grown from fewer than 100 per day at the end of August to 1,600 on 14 November - still considerably lower than hospitalisations in early April, the WHO noted.
The new figures come as European commission president Ursula von de Leyen said that the first citizens in Europe could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by Christmas, but warned that member countries must urgently prepare their logistical chains for the rollout of hundreds of million of vaccine doses.
The commission has agreements with six potential vaccine suppliers, with a seventh contract in the works, allowing it to purchase over 800 million doses.
This is nearly double the population of the bloc, which stands at around 460 million people.
Africa reported a 15 per cent increase in new Covid-19 cases this week and a 30 per cent increase in new deaths, said the WHO, accounting for the highest increase in new cases and deaths globally.
The WHO also noted that Japan reported the largest number of daily cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Japan has reported more than 2,000 cases every day for five consecutive days, a 41 per cent increase from the previous week.
Bars and other venues that serve alcohol in Tokyo have been asked to close earlier for the next three weeks to help curb the spread of the virus.
Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, met with officials to discuss ways to fight against the surge in infections. She said bars, karaoke outlets and restaurants serving alcohol in the city are being requested to close by 10pm, from Saturday until 17 December.
She also urged residents to avoid non-essential outings, return to working from home as much as possible and to adhere to safety measures if they still choose to eat out.
Additional reporting by PA