Covid-19: Europe's second wave is here - and some countries have worse outbreaks than in March, says EU
- France and the UK on Thursday set all-time records for daily coronavirus infections.
- Other European countries are seeing their highest cases since the continent's peak earlier this year.
- The EU's health commissioner said that in "some member states, the situation is now even worse than during the peak in March."
- Much of Europe was devastated during the first wave of the pandemic, which was followed by a marked lull.
- Better testing systems and infrastructure could go someway to explaining the new high figures — but experts agree that a resurgence is underway.
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France and the UK recorded their highest daily Covid-19 cases since the global outbreak began, and the EU warned that some of its countries now have worse outbreaks than they had in March.
Stella Kyriakides, the EU's health commissioner Stella Kyriakides warned on Thursday that in "some member states, the situation is now even worse than during the peak in March."
Taken together, the developments point to the feared second wave of the pandemic having arrived in Europe.
There are differences from the first wave in spring. While infections have increased, the number of deaths has not risen so sharply.
Also, the ability of officials to test and keep track of the number of infections has increased, meaning that the daily figures are now a better reflection of how the virus is spreading.
In the first wave, testing systems were only able to capture a small portion of those infected.
This is the picture across European countries as of Friday:
- France reported 16,096 new cases on Thursday. The cases are far higher than during its first peak in March, when a record of 7,578 cases was set.
- The UK reported 6,634 on Thursday, beating its previous record of 6,201 on May 1.
- Denmark reported a record 589 cases on September 19, compared to its April peak of 390.
- Belgium reported 2028 cases on September 18, second only to its April 15 high of 2,454.
- Poland reported a single-day record on September 14, with 1,136 cases.
- Greece reported its highest-ever number of new cases on September 21, with 453 cases.
The EU also listed seven countries as "high concern." They are:
- Spain, where a record 11,289 cases were recorded on September 23.
- Malta, where it set a record of 106 cases on September 16.
- Romania, which avoided a large peak earlier this year but is now seeing its highest-ever cases, at over 1,600.
- Bulgaria, where cases are now back close to their July record of more than 300.
- Croatia, where cases peaked in early September at 369 but have slightly fallen since.
- Hungary, which had almost no cases until September but saw a record 1070 cases on September 20.
- Czech Republic, which had also avoided a large outbreak but saw a record 3,123 cases on September 17.
European countries' current strategy for dealing with the virus is starkly different to the strict lockdown most implemented during the first wave.
In those early lockdowns, some regions banned outdoor exercise and insisted on citizens carrying permission forms to leave their homes.
Governments are now largely relying on local and regional lockdowns, and urging people to work from home, wear masks, and practise social distancing.
However, not all European countries are seeing the same pattern.
Italy, the first European country to be devastated by the virus, is seeing around 1,500 new cases a day — far higher than in June, July, and August, but well below its March peak of 6,554.
Germany and Ireland are also seeing cases rise, but not to the extent seen earlier in 2020.
The situation in Europe contrasts with that of the US, where the outbreak has continued in a more linear progression.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious-disease expert, warned in June that the US was still in its "first wave."
The new daily cases in the US has only risen since then.
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