Covid-19: Europe's outbreak worsening from disaster to catastrophe, as US scrambles to contain 3rd wave
- Europe's Covid-19 outbreak is rapidly resurging, prompting a flurry of new lockdowns like those seen in the spring.
- In the last ten days, France, Italy, Germany, Britain, and Sweden have reported new records for daily infections.
- France and Germany announced second national lockdowns on Wednesday, with Italy, Spain, and the UK also introducing new measures in the past fortnight.
- The US is also reporting record numbers of new cases even as President Donald Trump's administration is claiming that the pandemic is over. Several states have introduced or warned of new measures.
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Europe's Covid-19 crisis is worsening, while the US is struggling to keep new infections down.
The initial outbreak that hit Western Europe in March and April had subsided by the summer, but as autumn arrived, so has a second wave of infections.
The US, which hit the peak of its first outbreak a little later than Europe, is also struggling under the weight of a wave of new infections.
'This year's Christmas will be a different Christmas'
In the last 14 days, the US, France, Italy, Germany, Britain, and Sweden — which had opted against lockdown measures during the pandemic — all reported record numbers of new daily infections.
Last Sunday, Italy reported a new high of 21,273 daily new coronavirus cases, while in France, a record 52,010 people tested positive. On Thursday, a record 16,744 people tested positive in Germany. And on Wednesday, Sweden registered a new peak of 1,980 new COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the US logged a record 83,000 new daily cases on Friday.
Here's what European countries have done — and may yet do — to prevent their outbreaks spiraling further:
- France: On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said the country would "brutally apply the brakes" from Friday. Social gatherings were banned, restaurants and bars forced to close, and citizens only allowed to leave home for essential work or medical care. "The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated," he said.
- Germany: On Wednesday, the country announced a lockdown from November 2 to November 30. Restaurants and bars can only operate as takeaways; theaters, gyms, pools, and cinemas will close; and a maximum ten people from two households can meet. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany's health system "can still cope" with current cases, but said that "at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks."
- Italy: On Monday, the country told gyms, pools, cinemas, and theaters to close until November 24, and said bars and restaurants must close by 18:00. As a result, violent protests swept though Italy earlier this week.
- UK: The UK is yet to reintroduce a nationwide lockdown, but launched a three-tier warning system on October 12. However, scientists and experts are warning it is not enough, and that a UK-wide lockdown is imperative. Wales, which is part of the UK, launched its own two-week "firebreak" lockdown on Friday.
- Sweden: The country has opted against lockdown measures throughout the pandemic, and has never instituted a national lockdown. But in light of the new cases, some major cities — like Malmö and Uppsala — urged residents not to socialise and to avoid crowded places.
- Belgium: On October 20, a record 18,000 new cases were reported. A Belgian official told Reuters that the government had to decide whether a new lockdown should be imposed by the weekend.
"We are deep in the second wave," Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
"I think that this year's Christmas will be a different Christmas."
Cases surging in 47 states
In the US, Donald Trump's administration is claiming that it has beaten the pandemic, even as the country enters its third wave and is logging record numbers of new cases.
Experts have warned that the US' third coronavirus surge could be the deadliest.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top epidemiologist, told CNBC on Wednesday: "If things do not change ... there's gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths."
The number of new daily cases are on the rise in 47 states, CNBC said.
The US federal government did not impose a national lockdown early in the pandemic, but many states, like California and New York, took it upon themselves to enforce strict measures.
And in recent days, several US states have started imposing, or are threatening to impose, new restrictions.
J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, banned eating and drinking inside bars and restaurants in Chicago on Tuesday.
Gina Raimondo, the governor of Rhode Island, told the AP that her state may have to bring back containment measures if things deteriorate.
"We're in a bad place. This data is not encouraging. It's headed in the wrong direction in every metric," she said.
Hospitals across the US are also warning that they will not have adequate supply levels or people power to care for patients during the surge.
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