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Act now to curb spiralling COVID-19, EU agency says


LONDON (Reuters) - European governments must take immediate, targeted public health action to stop healthcare systems being overwhelmed by increasing COVID-19 infections, the European Union's health and disease agency said on Friday.

Populations' vulnerability to infection remains high, with data suggesting immunity levels at less than 15% in most areas and the overall death rate rising for over a month, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an updated risk assessment.

"The impact in terms of pressure on healthcare services and mortality has become increasingly evident," said Andrea Ammon, the ECDC's director. "With high levels of community transmission, the protection of vulnerable individuals becomes harder ... Strong public health action is necessary to revert an imminent risk of healthcare systems being overwhelmed."

France reported 41,622 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a new daily record, and will break through the 1 million cumulative tally on Friday - a grim milestone as it and other European capitals battle to keep their economies open.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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