Coronavirus cases are surging in Europe amid rising opposition to lockdown rules in a number of countries.
Europe is now reporting more coronavirus cases weekly than the US or South America, and experts have warned that without action a return to the peak of the pandemic could be on the way.
Europe recorded 460,000 new cases last week, while North and South America announced 380,000 each.
There was also a rise in cases among vulnerable groups, including over-65s, as the pandemic’s second wave swept the continent.
Cases among those aged 65 and over have been creeping up in Europe since September, analysis of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s figures showed. New weekly cases in that group doubled in the past month compared with July.
Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “We are heading back to March again if we are not careful – that’s the real worry.”
There were some positives: testing improved dramatically in Europe, meaning far more cases were being found now than in March and April.
Hospital admissions were also lower than in the spring, with 20,000 Europeans in hospital with Covid-19. At April’s peak there were more than 90,000.
However, the rise in older groups could push the numbers in hospital back up, experts warned.
Despite the rise, opposition to the various lockdown regulations remained strong.
Yesterday, Spain declared a state of emergency in Madrid to enforce a partial lockdown, including a ban on non-essential travel and large gatherings, and a 50pc capacity rule on public indoor spaces, overriding regional authorities and a court ruling outlawing the restrictions.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus counter, Spain had 12,423 new cases in the 24 hours up to yesterday, and 126 deaths, with Madrid the major driver. In total, 32,688 people have died with Covid-19 in Spain, out of 848,324 cases.
In France, Europe’s worst-hit country on a weekly basis with 79,000 infections reported in the last seven days, restaurateurs in Marseille took to the streets and local leaders launched a legal action to prevent closures.
Yesterday, Angela Merkel warned that new restrictions could be on the cards for 11 cities in Germany after registering 4,000 new infections on Thursday and yesterday.
The Netherlands suffered a leap in new cases, with 5,000 recorded on Thursday and an infection rate of 243 per million inhabitants, higher than Spain or Britain.
The Czech Republic declared a state of emergency after cases soared 20-fold.
Iceland, a former prime example of Covid management, closed hospitality venues after a surge in infections.
The World Health Organisation said that while it was “sad” to see cases spiking again in Europe, governments should avoid a return to “punishing” lockdowns. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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