Europe losing control of Covid transmission, world health official warns

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European governments are “well behind” in the fight against Covid with the continent is becoming an epicentre for the disease, a senior medic at the World Health Organisation has warned.

Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, said that much more comprehensive measures will be needed if Europe is to get on top of the pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference, Dr Ryan declared the continent “an epicentre” for Covid.

Lab scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris work on discovering more about the coronavirus. Credit: AP

He said: “There’s no question that the European region is an epicentre for disease right now.

“Right now we are well behind this virus in Europe so getting ahead of it is going to take some serious acceleration in what we do and maybe much more comprehensive nature of measures that are going to be needed.”

He said that if European countries imposed much tougher measures, it should be possible to stay ahead of transmission rates as long as thorough public health surveillance is in place.

Dr Ryan urged governments not to “squander” the opportunity presented by further lockdowns, and to support their citizens in doing the right thing.

So what is the current Covid situation in Europe?

France and Spain have more than one million people who have tested positive for Covid-19, while the rest of Europe also struggles to cope with the rise in coronavirus infections during the second wave of the global pandemic.

Despite the UK having the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, the total number of cases stands at 873,800 and the total number of cases per 100,000 people across 14 days stands at 405.2 – which is significantly less than some of our European neighbours.

Data released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) revealed five European countries with more than 500 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.

People gather at an outdoor market in Prague on Saturday 24 October 2020. Credit: AP

The Czech Republic is currently ranked the highest with the most recent 14-day cumulative total of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population at 1323.8.

Next is Belgium with a figure of 1301.2 and Luxembourg is in third place with a rate of 789.1.

Following Luxembourg is Slovenia which has 686.5 cases per 100,000.

Last in the top five is the Netherlands with a rate of 674.

So how are countries across Europe handling the second wave of coronavirus?

France

France has been among countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, with more than one million testing positive for the virus, it now has 1,138,507 positive Covid cases.

The country has also reported 34,761 virus-related deaths.

France currently has 602.2 with Covid-19 per 100,000 people across a 14-day cumulative total.

Covid-19 patients now occupy more than half of France’s intensive care units, and some doctors are urging tougher restrictions after another record jump in confirmed coronavirus infections.

The Head of the government’s virus advisory body, Dr Jean-Francois Delfraissy, expressed shock on Monday at the “brutality” of the rise, after more than 52,000 new cases were reported on Sunday.

A 9pm curfew is in place in Paris and other parts of France. Credit: AP

Speaking on RTL radio, he floated the idea of local lockdowns or extending France’s 9pm to 6 am curfews, which currently covers about half of the country and more than two-thirds of its people.

The number of people hospitalised in France with Covid-19 has risen sharply in recent weeks, putting renewed pressure on ICUs.

Covid patients now fill more than two-thirds of the ICUs in the Paris region.

Dr. Eric Caumes, head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at Paris’ Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, told broadcaster Franceinfo on Monday that “we have lost control of the epidemic, though it doesn’t date from yesterday.”

French lawmakers also voted on Saturday to extend the health state of emergency to February 16, 2021 – which grants the government powers to impose further restrictions.

Spain

Spain has been among countries whose coronavirus figures have increased significantly as there are currently 1,046,132 people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

The country has also reported 34,752 virus-related deaths.

Spain currently has the highest 14-day cumulative total of Covid-19 cases. Credit: AP

Spain currently has 394.2 cases per 100,000 people across a 14-day cumulative total.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a national curfew from 11pm to 6am and said he would ask lawmakers to keep the rules in place until May.

The curfew starting on Sunday night means Spaniards will have to watch the clock if they wish to socialise in public venues.

The measure could end chances for the recovery of the country’s large nightlight industry.

Italy

Italy registered a further 21,273 Covid cases on Sunday and 128 deaths since the day before, bringing their total to 525,782.

The country has also reported a total of 37,338 virus deaths, Europe’s second-highest pandemic death toll after the UK.

Credit: AP

Italy currently has 283 cases per 100,000 people across a 14-day cumulative total.

As a result of the increasing coronavirus figures, Italy’s leader has imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country in a bid to fight rising infections and deaths.

This means the country will be closing gyms, pools and cinemas as well as placing an early curfew on cafes and restaurants while enforcing people continue to wear masks outdoors.

The new restrictions will be in place from Monday up until November 24.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said: “Our aim is to protect health and the economy”.

He said: “We all have to do small sacrifices,” before adding: “If we can’t go to the gym, we can exercise outdoors.”

Germany

Even Germany – which was praised for its Covid testing capacity at the start of the pandemic – is showing signs that cases and deaths are starting to rise again.

The country has a total of 437,866 confirmed coronavirus cases and has reported a total of 10,056 virus deaths.

Germany will impose stricter measures for mask-wearing. Credit: AP

Germany surpassed a grim milestone of recording more than 10,000 deaths on Saturday, making it the sixth European country to do so.

It also currently has 135.6 cases per 100,000 people across a 14-day cumulative total.

“No one is safe from Covid-19. No one is safe until we are all safe from it,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

He added. “Even those who conquer the virus within their own borders remain prisoners within these borders until it is conquered everywhere.”

Belgium

Belgium has startling 1301.2 cases per 100,000 people across a 14-day cumulative total, which shows that the cases are beginning to increase rapidly more recently.

The country has a total of 320,937 confirmed coronavirus cases and has reported a total of 10,810 virus deaths.

The latest figures come as Belgium’s prime minister has also ordered cafes, bars and restaurants to close for at least a month in the face of surging infections.

Masks will once again become mandatory in public spaces in Brussels, shops must shut at 8pm, and public gatherings of more than four people are banned.

The latest restrictions will be in place until November 19.




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