Europe Gripped by Second Wave as Covid Cases Rise Sharply

Europe

MADRID – Several countries in Europe are in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections, as case numbers soar across the continent to higher levels than at the start of the pandemic.

GERMANY

Daily infections in Germany spiked to more than 4,000 in the last 24 hours, the highest figure since mid-April, the country’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said on Thursday.

RKI reported 4,058 cases in the last 24 hours, compared to 2,828 the previous day. The number of cases has been steadily rising since the start of September, Wieler said, adding that the number had doubled in the past week. “That worries me very much,” he said.

“It is possible that we will see more than 10,000 cases a day and that the virus will spread uncontrollably,” RKI president Lothar Wieler told a press conference he held with health minister Jens Spahn, who called the situation “very concerning.”

Despite the worrying trend, Spahn insisted that there would not be another lockdown.

“We will not get into the April situation because we know more,” the health minister said, although he urged people to continue following health rules and guidelines as infections rise, particularly among younger people.

“Younger ones especially are now infected because they want to travel, because they want to celebrate parties and consider themselves immune,” said Spahn, who called on people not to “gamble away what we have achieved.”

There have been more than 310,100 confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak and 9,578 deaths, including 16 recorded in the past day.

The fatality rate remains significantly lower than other countries such as Spain, France or the United Kingdom.

ITALY

Travelers from Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Czech Republic will have to undergo an obligatory testing upon arrival in Italy.

Screening was already mandatory for anyone coming from Spain, Malta, Greece and Croatia.

Arrivals have to produce a negative test result from up to 72 hours before landing or be checked when they land at testing booths that have been constructed at major airports and ports in Italy.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement on social media that the number of infections is rising throughout Europe, including in Italy.

“Today, more than ever, everyone’s contribution is important in stopping the virus,” he added.

Italy registered 3,678 infections in the last 24 hours, the highest number since the peak of contagion in mid-April when the country was in full lockdown.

UNITED KINGDOM

The government is considering closing bars and restaurants in northern England, one day after Scotland announced the measure.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that licensed premises will be closed from Friday in five central areas including the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The same restriction could be imposed in parts of northern England from Monday along with a three-tiered local alert system indicating the risk in different areas, according to the BBC.

Infections across the UK increased on Thursday by 17,540, some 3,000 more than the previous day.

FRANCE

Authorities have added the cities of Lille, Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne on the list of areas on maximum alert for soaring infection rates.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that more restrictions will be imposed in areas where infections are rising too quickly.

A city is added to the high-risk list if its cumulative incidence rates surpasses 200 per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days.

Paris and Marseille were already on the list.

He added that the focus would be on areas where there are high infections among the elderly and where most hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech authorities have announced the closure of bars and restaurants for a 14-day period from Monday after the country recorded 5,335 daily cases, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

Czech Republic now has the highest infection rate in the European Union.

The health minister announced on Thursday a new package of measures to close restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and sporting centers for two weeks in a bid to flatten the curve.

There were also 829 deaths and 1,563 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours in the Czech Republic. Some 354 of new admissions were in a serious condition.

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients has doubled since the beginning of October, threatening to overwhelm the country’s health system.

A state of emergency was declared on Monday which will be in force for at least 30 days and authorities are expected to announce new restrictions on Friday.

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