- France and the United Kingdom set all-time highs for daily coronavirus infections on Thursday.
- Other European countries are experiencing their highest cases since the continent’s peak earlier this year.
- The European 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 in the first wave of the pandemic, which was followed by a marked lull.
- Better systems and testing infrastructure could somehow explain the new high numbers – but experts agree a resurgence is underway.
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France and the UK have recorded their highest daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the global epidemic, and the EU has warned that some of its countries now have outbreaks worse than those in March.
Stella Kyriakides, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, warned on Thursday that in “some member states the situation is now even worse than at the peak in March”.
Taken together, these developments indicate that the dreaded second wave of the pandemic has arrived in Europe.
There are some differences from the first wave of spring. While infections have increased, the number of deaths has not increased as sharply.
In addition, the ability of authorities to test and track the number of infections has increased, meaning that the daily numbers now better reflect how the virus is spreading.
In the first wave, testing systems were only able to capture a small portion of those infected.
Here’s the picture across European countries on Friday:
- France reported 16,096 new cases on Thursday. Cases are much higher than when it first peaked in March, when a record 7,578 cases were set.
- The UK reported 6,634 on Thursday, breaking 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 2,028 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 number of new cases on September 21, with 453 cases.
The EU also classified seven countries as “of high concern”. They are:
- Spain, where a record 11,289 cases were recorded on September 23.
- Malta, where it set a record 106 cases on September 16.
- Romania, which avoided a significant peak earlier this year, but now has its highest cases on record, at over 1,600.
- Bulgaria, where cases are now back close to their July record of over 300.
- Croatia, where cases peaked at 369 in early September but have declined slightly since.
- Hungary, which had almost no cases until September, but recorded a record 1,070 cases on September 20.
- The Czech Republic, which had also avoided a major outbreak but recorded a record 3,123 cases on September 17.
The current strategy of European countries to fight the virus is radically different from the strict lockdown most implemented in the first wave.
During these first lockdowns, some regions banned outdoor exercises and insisted that citizens with authorization forms to leave their homes.
Governments now rely heavily on local and regional lockdowns and urge people to work from home, wear masks and practice social distancing.
However, not all European countries see the same trend.
Italy, the first European country to be devastated by the virus, records around 1,500 new cases a day – far more than in June, July and August, but well below its March peak of 6,554.
Germany and Ireland are also seeing an increase, but not to the extent seen earlier in 2020.
The situation in Europe contrasts with that of the United States, where the epidemic has continued in a more linear progression.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease specialist in the United States, warned in June that the United States was still in its “first wave”.
Daily new cases in the United States have only increased since then.