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Europe Lurches Into Crisis. Infection Rates Spiral Out Of Control

A woman passing a boarded up pub in Ireland - shut due to coronavirus restrictions.

PortandTerminal.com, October 22, 2020

A second wave of coronavirus sends much of Europe back into lockdown | “Today, we have to talk about reconfinement. It is the only tool we have left.”

HAMBURG – Spiralling coronavirus infection rates across Europe are throwing the continent once again in serious crisis.

Germany

People wearing face masks are pictured at Schloss Strasse shopping street as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Berlin
Berlin issued travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, most of Austria and many Italian regions, including the capital Rome.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Thursday reported more than 11,200 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours and the organization expressed grave concern as the virus threatened to spiral out of control.

It is the first time since the start of the pandemic that more than 10,000 new cases in Germany were recorded in a 24-hour period and the second time in a matter of days that the country has reported a new daily high. The record spike in cases comes shortly after German Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. 

The German government has issued travel warnings for popular ski regions in Austria, Italy and Switzerland, as well as for all of Ireland and Poland. Mainland Britain is also now viewed as a high risk area.

France

A police patrol after the curfew started in Paris on Saturday. Measures have been extended across 38 departments in France. 46 million people are now under curfew Photograph: Lewis Joly/AP

In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the government will extend the 9:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew to more regions of the country. He said the curfew would now impact a total of 46 million people and would include some overseas French territories. France has a population of about 67 million people.

“A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Castex said at a news conference, adding that the month of November would be very tough.

“The coming weeks will be hard and the number of deaths will continue to rise,” he said.

Italy

Naples school teacher Pamela Buda holds her lessons to her social distancing students on public steps
Naples school teacher Pamela Buda holds her lessons to her social distancing students on public steps, after the region of Campania closed schools due to a spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Naples, Italy, October 21, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed by COVID-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the continent after Britain, with 36,832 fatalities since the outbreak flared in February, according to official figures.

Italy registered 15,199 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Wednesday, the highest daily tally since the start of the country’s outbreak and up from a previous record of 11,705 posted on Sunday.

There are now around the same number of intensive care patients as when the country went into national lockdown on March 9, though at that time they were far more heavily concentrated in northern regions.

Like France, regions of Italy are now imposing strict curfews. Some are closing schools.

Spain

Person in white hazmat suit.
Spain became the first Western European country to record more than a million coronavirus infections since the onset of the pandemic

Spain became the first Western European country to record more than a million coronavirus infections since the onset of the pandemic, health ministry data showed on Wednesday, after 16,973 cases were added to the tally since the previous day.

Spain’s health minister described a second wave of the coronavirus sweeping the country as “out of control” on Thursday (Oct 22) as the government considered whether to follow France and other European countries in imposing curfews.

“The lives of tens of thousands of people are at stake,”

“Not to take these measures would be irresponsible,” said Francisco Igea, deputy leader of the Castilla and Leon region, which formally requested the central government to decide on a curfew.

“The lives of tens of thousands of people are at stake,” he told a news conference.

United Kingdom

London. Poster of the Queen. Double decker bus
Getty Images

Up to 90,000 people a day are being infected with COVID-19 in England, the government’s chief scientific adviser warned on Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said though that another national lockdown was “not the right course” for the UK, “not when the psychological cost of lockdown is known to us, the economic cost, and not when it has been suggested that we might have to perform the same sort of brutal lockdowns again and again in the months ahead”.

Similar story in other European countries

Sophie Wilmès, who up until very recently was Prime Minister of Belgium wearing mask.
Sophie Wilmès, who up until very recently was Prime Minister of Belgium, is now in an ICU after being admitted to hospital with the virus on the weekend.

The story is the same or even worse in other countries in Europe. Today it was announced that Belgium’s former prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, age 45, is now an ICU after being admitted to hospital on the weekend with coronavirus.

“We must no longer ask ourselves what we should close; we must ask ourselves what to leave open,”

There are growing calls from senior virologists for the government to put Belgium in a second national lockdown in light of spiralling infection rates.

“We must no longer ask ourselves what we should close; we must ask ourselves what to leave open,” a former spokesperson for the Belgian government’s coronavirus crisis centre, Emmanuel André told RTBF. “Today, we have to talk about reconfinement. It is the only tool we have left.”

The National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland
Poland’s government is transforming the National Stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital to handle the surging number of people infected with the coronavirus (Czarek Sokolowski / AP)

Poland, which experienced very low rates of infection in the spring compared with Western European countries, is now witnessing an exponential surge of coronavirus infections. In the past day, 21 per cent of all tests came back positive for the virus. Poland’s government is transforming the National Stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital to handle the surging number of people infected with the coronavirus

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