his comments came as the world health organization is "very worried" about the spread of covid-19 in europe as the continent battles a fresh wave of infections.

Speaking to the BBC, regional director Dr Hans Kluge warned that 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March unless urgent action is taken.

He called for more people to get vaccinated, basic public health measures to be implemented and new treatments to be developed, but said mandatory vaccination should be the last resort.

"covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region," he told the bbc.

Austria on Friday became the first European country to announce that Covid-19 vaccination would become a legal requirement.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said it was a difficult decision to take in a free society, but that the jabs were "the only exit ticket we have to break this vicious circle".

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people protested against the new measures in the capital Vienna.

Countries including the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also announced fresh restrictions on unvaccinated people as record infection rates are recorded across the continent.

Overnight, violent rioting erupted in Rotterdam in the Netherlands over new Covid-19 measures.

the surge in coronavirus infections across europe show the "critical" need for people in the uk get vaccinated, a government scientific adviser has said.

Prof John Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told Sky News that the rise in cases on the continent underlined "how quickly things can go wrong".

However, Edmunds, who is a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said : "There are still many millions of people here in the UK who have not been fully vaccinated – it's essential now.

Whitehall sources this weekend played down the immediate need for "plan B" restrictions, pointing to data published this week showing the protection offered by a booster shot.

alongside maximising the uptake of third doses, officials hope the lifting of restrictions earlier in the year will mean britain avoids the winter surges currently being experienced on mainland europe.

"what you see now particularly in central europe with this very rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination, how critical it is that people who need their boosters should come forward and be vaccinated as rapidly as possible."

Prof Edmunds added : "I am concerned about waning immunity.

The booster doses, it is pretty clear, do give a clear boost to your immune system, which may last some considerable time, so I think it's really essential that the booster doses are rolled out as fast as possible."

We know what needs to be done."

It comes as infections have been rising across parts of the continent, with some countries experiencing a record number of daily cases in recent weeks.

Under a new law the government wants to introduce, businesses would be allowed to restrict the country's Covid passport system to people who have had both doses of the vaccine or have recently had the virus.

It would exclude those who test negative.

The results are overcrowded intensive care units and enormous suffering."

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