Coronavirus Second Wave: European Countries Trying to Avoid Lockdown Amid Fresh Spike in COVID-19

Written by | Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

The global death toll from the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year and has swept across the world, has now reached the one million mark. While the United States, Brazil, India, Mexico have recorded the highest number of dead globally, in Europe, the UK, Spain, France and Italy are also among the deadliest countries for COVID-19. With cases rising and experts warning about a second wave of the epidemic looming large, many European governments are now weighing stricter measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “will not hesitate” to take stricter measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus but emphasised that he wanted to avoid a national lockdown. It comes as the UK recorded more than 7,000 cases in a single day on Wednesday (30 September) and 71 deaths.
And while the UK’s chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance stated that Britons absolutely needed to reduce their contacts as hospitalisations, intensive care admissions and deaths were all going up, Spain’s health ministry warned restrictions would be extended in the capital city where the situation has become “worrying” despite pushback from the regional government. The health ministry has been encouraging Madrid’s government to implement new measures, extending restrictions beyond the neighbourhoods most impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 infections. New measures were also announced in France on Thursday (1 October) after Prime Minister Jean Castex’s meeting with city leaders from Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble, cities heavily impacted by COVID-19. It comes as the country recorded 13,000 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours, and as hospitalisations rise in multiple cities. The Czech Republic, also facing increasing cases, issued a new state of emergency order that will take effect on 5 October.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the strict measures put in place earlier this year to curb the spread of the coronavirus have since been eased. Italians can move around freely, though they do have to wear masks in buildings and on the streets between 6pm and 6am in crowded areas. Compared to Spain and France, the rate of infection in Italy remains relatively low and does not seem to be rising rapidly. With the daily number of new infections reaching 1,851 on Wednesday (30 September), hospitals are not overwhelmed and the COVID-19 fatality rate also remains low. “We haven’t yet started to experience a second wave,” said Maria Rita Gismondo from Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan. She thinks that one reason Italy is faring better than other European countries is that Italians learned from the high death rates in March and April. “The psychological effect is very important. In the first phase, people panicked about getting infected. They stopped seeing other people entirely. Now people are feeling better and more secure, because we know that we can keep the situation under control.”

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