With records of reported cases that are three times higher than those of the first peak of the pandemic in MarchEurope is submerged in its second wave of the new coronavirus, the same wave that experts predicted a few months ago. The data is worrying. In the last week, cases increased 44 percent, with a trend that rapidly tends to place this continent again as the focus of the pandemic.
Proof of this is that Europe breaks its own records of positives daily, with figures above 150,000 daily. Those numbers, as analyzed by health authorities, are located very close to those that America showed in August, which for now is the region most affected by the pandemic.
And that also shows that the two continents are the face of the same coin, but at the wrong time: if in August America was locked and Europeans were enjoying their holidays, Now that the former are beginning to experience the ‘new normal’, it is Europe that is once again suffering the return of restrictions.
The situation is such that the World Health Organization (WHO) warned yesterday Saturday that many European cities are suffering significant increases in the number of patients treated in the intensive care units (ICU) of their hospitals, with what they could reach their limit in the coming weeks, thus contradicting those who lowered the profile of gravity to the predicted second wave.
Recently, the director for Europe of the WHO, Hans Kluge, had clarified that although the number of cases today is higher “compared to the peak of the April curve”, the “number of deaths represents one fifth” of those recorded in the hardest moment of the pandemic.
However, in the face of this potential overflow of serious cases, the WHO itself warned this week that if trends and projections, Europe could reach a mortality level “four or five times higher than in April” if the restrictions that have been applied are gradually and prematurely lifted.
For now, Europe already has more than 7 million positives and about 250,000 deaths.
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When referencing cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the Czech Republic ranks first in this part of the world with 660.8 cases, triggered in the last two weeks. This rate is followed by Belgium (505.4), the Netherlands (435.2), France (321.6), the United Kingdom (300.2) and Spain (295), according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention , with data as of October 16.
France, for example, recorded 30,000 new coronavirus cases and 88 deaths on Friday alone. “It’s frightening. I feel like I’m going back to March, ”said Hocine Saal, head of the emergency service at the Montreuil hospital, on the outskirts of Paris.
The responses to the advance of the pandemic have not been long in coming. From this Saturday, for example, a curfew has been in force in Paris and other French cities, one of the measures that continue to multiply on the continent to stop the spread of the virus.
In France, activities were paralyzed in some cities from Saturday between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am Around 20 million people in Paris and eight other cities, such as Marseille, will be affected under penalty of fines, and there will only be exceptions with authorization.
Belgium ordered the closure of cafes and restaurants starting Monday for four weeks. For its part, London went further in restricting people: banned its nine million inhabitants from meeting with family and friends in closed spaces since this Saturday.
In Germany, a country considered exemplary in its management of the first wave, the situation is also critical. Changes were announced there. Chancellor Angela Merkel called for new restrictions after registering a record 6,638 cases on Friday.
In regions where more than 35 new cases are confirmed per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, the capacity will be limited to private events and the use of masks will be imposed when distances cannot be maintained or people have to share space for a certain time. In addition, if the 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants are exceeded, stricter rules will be imposed, such as restaurant closings at 11pm
On the other hand, in Spain, the region of Catalonia decided to close all its bars and restaurants for 15 days, to try to avoid a “total confinement”. These measures come after strong movement restrictions in Madrid imposed by the central government.
And Italy, which was the first country in Europe affected by the pandemic and which until now had managed to keep the outbreak under control, surpassed the threshold of 10,000 cases on Friday. The regions most affected by the rebound are Lombardy (north), Campania (Naples region, south) and Piedmont (north-west).
The new restrictive measures include a ban on private parties, more rigid hours for bars and restaurants, and limits the number of guests at home to six. Weddings and baptisms must have a maximum of 30 guests and the use of masks, even outdoors, is mandatory throughout the country under penalty of a fine of up to 1,000 euros (about $ 900).
And while all this is happening, the world is stepping on the accelerator for the development of effective therapeutic interventions or a vaccine that prevents contagion, something that would only happen until next year. Meanwhile, governments must make use of what is known to be effective: masks, distance and hand washing.
INTERNATIONAL DRAFTING AND HEALTH UNIT ** With EFE and AFP