As the continent’s first epidemic in the spring struck the elderly, spreading through nursing homes and hospitals, these new clusters of infection appear to be linked to young people, who venture into bars, restaurants and the like. public places.
“There is a real resurgence of cases in several countries due to the relaxation of physical distancing measures,” the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement on Monday.
Spain is at the forefront of this new battle. Earlier this week, Spain overtook the UK as the country with the second highest number of confirmed cases in Europe after Russia. The Spanish Air Force has deployed a field hospital in the city of Zaragoza, capital of the Aragon region, which has seen a spike in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.
Younger people catch the virus now
Other European countries are experiencing the same trend.
According to the ECDC, 40% of people who contracted the disease in Europe between January and May were 60 years of age or older. But in June and July, this age group accounted for just 17.3% of all cases. The largest proportion of new cases in summer, 19.5%, were reported in people aged 20 to 29, the ECDC said. The median age fell from 54 in January to May to 39 in June to July.
French Health Minister Olivier Véran said the virus was now circulating among young people in the country. France saw its biggest increase in daily new cases since the lockdown eased on Wednesday, with 2,524 new cases in 24 hours, according to the ministry.
However, Véran said the impact on the healthcare system is not as severe as it was in the spring when France experienced similar infection rates.
“The proportion of complicated cases is much lower,” Véran told France 2 television channel, adding that the age of those infected is one of the reasons behind this. “Patients diagnosed with [Covid-19] are now younger, 20 to 40 years old and less vulnerable, ”he explained.
Greece is also experiencing new peaks in cases. It recorded the largest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began on Wednesday, with 262 new infections recorded by the Greek National Public Health Organization.
According to a tweet from Vassilis Kikilias, the Greek Minister of Health, the average age of those who were infected in August has fallen to 36.
Compared to other European countries, Greece has managed to better control the virus in recent months. It has reported 6,177 cases to date, a fraction of the numbers seen elsewhere. Low infection rates have allowed Greece to welcome tourists from the rest of Europe, promoting itself as a safe country. Now, in an attempt to stop new epidemics, the Greek government is closing this door a bit.
From the start of the week, visitors from Spain, Sweden, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands need a negative test to enter the country. There is also a new midnight curfew for bars and restaurants in 16 regions of Greece.
Meanwhile, the daily number of new infections in Germany climbed back to above 1,000, after several days of falling rates. The national center for disease prevention, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 1,226 new infections on Wednesday, the highest since May.
As German schools begin to reopen, the government is urging people to follow social distancing rules and wear masks. It has also launched a massive campaign of free testing for anyone entering the country.
Italy, the zero point of the spring epidemic in Europe, has so far managed to reverse the trend. But in the face of new outbreaks in other countries, Italy has put in place measures to prevent the virus from being imported from abroad. Like much of the rest of Europe, Italy still does not allow travelers from most countries of the world to enter the country freely.
But from Thursday, the restrictions will apply even to people coming from countries Italy has previously deemed safe. Travelers who have been to Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain in the last 14 days – even if they have just transited – can only enter Italy if they have tested negative up to 72 hours before the arrival.
Further north, the UK introduced new quarantine requirements for people coming from Belgium last week following spikes in cases there. He also announced several local lockdowns in parts of northern England where new outbreaks have been identified.
CNN’s Chris Liakos in Kefalonia, Livia Borghese in Rome, Fred Pleitgen in Berlin and Sharon Braithwaite, James Frater and Sarah Dean in London contributed reporting.