“We are seeing 98,000 cases reported in the past 24 hours. This is a new regional record. This is very alarming, ”said Robb Butler, executive director of the WHO regional office for Europe. While part of this is due to the increase in testing, “it’s also concerning in terms of the viral resurgence.”
In Spain, a state of emergency has been declared for Madrid. In Germany, soldiers have been called in to help with the tracing of contacts in the new hot spots. And in Italy, where a new outdoor mask mandate went into effect this week, concerns about hospital filling are rising for the first time since spring, when the country was the European epicenter of the pandemic. The governor of the southern Campania region threatens a new lockdown if cases continue to rise as COVID hospital beds become scarce.
Epidemiologists and residents criticize governments for not taking advantage of a drop in cases during the summer to adequately prepare for the expected fall increase.
Testing is still insufficient – lines for testing in Rome have lasted 8-10 hours per week, and intensive care staff are still insufficient, forcing health workers in several countries to face new challenges. long hours and overcrowded rooms. New restrictions such as the closure of bars, restaurants and indoor theaters that aim to slow the spread are increasing tensions and in some countries, such as Romania, have led to protests.
“When the state of alarm was dropped, it was time to invest in prevention, but it was not done”, lamented Margarita del Val, expert in viral immunology at the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center, which is part of the main Spanish research organization, the CSIC. In an online forum this week, she added, “We’re in the fall wave without having solved the summer wave.”
WHO released new guidance this week suggesting governments consider social, psychological and emotional issues when issuing new restrictions or lockdowns.
“Fatigue is absolutely natural,” said Butler. “It’s normal where we have these protracted crises or emergencies.”