Europe’s ‚Second Wave‘: As COVID-19 Cases Soar, WTO Warns of Deaths Surge in Coming Months

Written by | Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks earlier this year. Some countries – such as Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro, North Macedonia – are experiencing higher case numbers now than they did earlier in the year. Belgium, Italy and the UK – among Europe’s worst-hit countries – are seeing a resurgence but, so far at least, nothing like in the spring. Of the three, the UK’s figures – 3,539 cases on Saturday (12 September) – look the most worrying. Yet, while new COVID-19 cases in Europe are now eclipsing the daily totals seen when the pandemic first hit in March and April, a surge in deaths from the disease has not followed in the second wave’s wake.
As last week European countries together announced 41,000 fresh cases a day on average, which is about 5,000 more than the worst week of April, deaths, on the other hand, remain relatively low – on average just 360 deaths announced each day across Europe last week, a figure that is dwarfed by a peak of 4,012 deaths in April. One explanation for this discrepancy could be the fact that around 88% coronavirus deaths (in the UK) occurr within 28 days of a positive test, according to a Public Health England’s report. Another possible explanation for the low death rates is that the COVID-19 infections have largely been contained among the young. After the first wave decimated care homes and tore through the most vulnerable, during the current second wave new infections have mainly affected younger age groups as lockdowns lift and communities return to work, pubs and other people’s homes.
Meanwhile, Europe must prepare for a rise in daily COVID-19 deaths in October and November, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. “It’s going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality,” according to Hans Kluge, Director of WHO’s European office. Many countries in Europe have recently beefed up measures to control the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 following weeks of rising infections although the number of deaths has remained stable. The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, warned that the country is on the verge of a second wave on Sunday and his government imposed tougher face mask requirements, while in England, tougher rules were also introduced a day later a ban on gatherings of more than six people, in both private and public settings.

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