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End of pandemic in sight for Europe: WHO******
Two years after the outbreak of COVID-19, Europe could soon enter a "long period of tranquility" due to high vaccination rates, the milder Omicron variant and the end of winter, the WHO said Thursday.
WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said the respite was "a ceasefire that could bring us enduring peace."
"This context leaves us with the possibility for a long period of tranquility," he told reporters on Thursday.
Widespread immunity from vaccines and infections, combined with the change of season, also puts Europe in a better position to fend off any resurgence in transmission, he said.
"Even with a more virulent variant" than Omicron, Kluge said.
"It is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge – without reinstalling the kind of disruptive measures we needed before," Kluge said.
This was "not to say that (the pandemic) is now all over," but "there is a singular opportunity to take control of the transmission," he stressed.
He cautioned that the optimistic scenario would only hold true if countries continued their vaccination campaigns and intensified surveillance to detect new variants.
He also urged health authorities to protect risk groups and to promote individual responsibility, such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
With the more contagious Omicron variant in circulation, infections have surged across the WHO's European region, which comprises 53 countries, including some in central Asia.
Some 12 million new cases were registered last week in the region, according to the WHO, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
But faced with a lower level of hospitalisations than in previous waves, several European countries, including France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have announced the lifting or a considerable reduction of restrictions, despite record or very high cases.
Denmark on Tuesday became the first European Union country to lift its domestic COVID-19 restrictions, followed later in the day by Norway.
Speaking on the eve of World Cancer Day, Kluge also expressed concern over the "catastrophic impact" the pandemic has had on cancer care around the world.
In the last three months of 2021, cancer screenings and treatments were disrupted by five to 50 percent in all countries surveyed, he said.
"The situation has improved since the first quarter of last year," he said. "But the knock-on effect of this disruption will be felt for years."
He urged Europe's health-care authorities to take advantage of the expected seasonal COVID lull to reduce backlogs in chronic care services.
Helicopter carrying India's chief of defense staff crashes in Tamil Nadu******
A helicopter carrying India's Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and other officials crashed Wednesday in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, officials said.。
The helicopter crashed at the Coonoor area of Nilgiris district, about 538 km southwest of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu.。
"An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu," the Indian Air Force (IAF) said in a brief statement. "An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident."
Details about the casualties are awaited, officials said.。
Reports said some injured people have been taken to hospital. Images on local TV channels showed the wreckage along with thick smoke and fire on the spot.。
War epic "The Battle at Lake Changjin" continues leading Chinese box office******
BEIJING, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- War epic film "The Battle at Lake Changjin" maintained its top spot in the Chinese mainland box office on Monday, data from the China Movie Data Information Network showed Tuesday.
The film raked in 19.93 million yuan (about 3.12 million U.S. dollars) on Monday, with its total box office revenue reaching 5.3 billion yuan.
The Chinese production was followed by "Dune," a sci-fi film adapted from a homonymic novel written by Frank Herbert, which generated around 12.73 million yuan on its fourth day of screening.
"Love After Love," a romance drama by Hong Kong director Ann Hui and released on Friday, grabbed the third spot with a daily box office of about 4.54 million yuan on Monday. Enditem