Covid-19 resurfaces strongly and Europe prepares for new restrictions

  • The ECDC places the level of concern at “very high” and says hospitalizations and deaths will continue to grow for the next two weeks

  • Holland advances from this Saturday the closing time of bars and restaurants to 20 hours in a ‘partial’ confinement and Austria studies confining unvaccinated people

The spread of COVID-19 cruising again in Europe. All indicators used by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show an increasing trend. From the number of cases reported in the last 14 days, to hospitalizations, admission to intensive care or the number of deaths, which places the level of concern at 8.3 on a scale of 10. “The general epidemiological situation is characterized by a rapid and high increase in reported cases and a low mortality rate although slowly increasing & rdquor ;, warns the ECDC in an analysis in which it warns that hospitalizations and deaths will continue to grow for at least the next two weeks.

According the last report, the number of cases grows for fifth week in a row in the European Union and now reaches 383.9 per 100,000 inhabitants (316.4 the previous week), with a death rate of 35.5 per million people (32.3 a week ago) and an increase in hospitalizations in 24 of the 27 countries for which data are available. Although the photograph varies from one Member State to another, in a dozen countries the epidemiological situation is “very worrying & rdquor ;, a label that the ECDC reserves for Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Belgium. The ECDC experts’ diagnosis points out that “countries with the lowest vaccination rate continue to be the most severely affected & rdquor ;. Concern is also high in 13 countries (including Germany, Luxembourg, Austria or Ireland among others), “moderate & rdquor; in another three (Portugal, France and Cyprus) and “low & rdquor; on Spain, Italy, Malta and Sweden.

“Almost 2 million cases of covid-19 have been notified in Europe during the last week, the highest number in a single week in this region since the pandemic began & rdquor ;, the director general of the World Organization of the Health, Tedros Adhanom, about a virus that will be making a strong resurgence in countries with the lowest vaccination rates, particularly Eastern Europe, but also in countries with the highest vaccination levels. “It’s another reminder that vaccines do not replace the need for other precautions,” he added.

Return of restrictions

Against this background, some European governments are beginning to tighten the measures and restrictions or to think of confinements to stop a fourth wave. It is the case of Netherlands, that from this Saturday will apply a “Partial confinement & rdquor; of three weeks with closing of shops, supermarkets, bars and restaurants at 8:00 p.m., reduction of the number of guests at home to 4 maximum, sporting events without public and recommendation of teleworking again.

The Government of Austria -where only 64% of the population is vaccinated against covid-19- it is even proposed to go further and confine people who have not been vaccinated or who have not recovered from the disease from next week, starting with the most affected regions . Although the measure has been rejected by some regions, who maintain that the unvaccinated have already been prohibited from accessing bars, sports centers and events of more than 25 people since the beginning of this week, Prime Minister Alexander Schallenberg considers that it is the only way to increase a vaccination rate in the country that is “embarrassingly low”.

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Meanwhile in Belgium, which is approaching an average of 10,000 infections a day with 472 occupied intensive care beds and a peak of infections that could arrive at the end of November, the federal minister of health, Franck Vanderbroucke, has already warned that new measures will be necessary to contain the fourth wave. “We do not foresee closing a whole series of sectors but measures will be necessary to quickly stop the circulation of the virus because, although vaccines protect very effectively against serious disease, they protect less against contagion & rdquor ;, he estimates.

It’s something he also plans to do Denmark. Last September it eliminated all restrictions and has decided to reintroduce the requirement of the covid passport to access bars, restaurants and events in the face of the advance of infections. On Germany (with 67% of people with double guidelines) some of the most affected federal states have also adopted new restrictions, aimed particularly at the unvaccinated and the president of the Robert Kohch institute, Lothar Wieler, has called for a tightening of the restrictions.

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