Bracing for Lockdown 2.0: A Second Wave of COVID-19 Hits Europe

Written by | Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Europe’s daily deaths related to COVID-19 could reach four or five times their April peak within months without effective countermeasures, the World Health Organization (WTO) has said, as most countries on the continent are struggling to deal with record numbers of new infections. “The evolving epidemiological situation in Europe raises great concern: daily cases are up, hospital admissions are up and COVID is now the fifth leading cause of deaths” in the region, killing more than 1,000 people a day, Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, warned on Thursday (15 October). The expert, however, added that there was also some degree of optimism because the situation was not the same as during the first wave of the pandemic, with tighter controls put in place by many European countries this week standing a good chance to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
Tighter restrictions introduced by several European countries – from Spain to France and the Netherlands and the Czech Republic – were “good because absolutely necessary”, the WTO official said. The Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Poland, Bosnia and Croatia have all reported daily high figures. As nine French cities, including Paris and Marseille, began nightly curfews on Saturday (17 October), Germany also ramped up restrictions as daily cases hit record high. In the UK, London and seven other areas have now been declared level two on the country‘s virus alert level, while Liverpool is level three, the most severe on the scale. Also Belgium has tightened its coronavirus restrictions, faced with a sharp rise in cases over the past few weeks and warnings of a devastating second wave.
In the country’s capital, Brussels, the European Commission – whose president, Ursula von der Leyen, also went into self-isolation after a colleague tested positive – warned EU governments were not fully prepared for the latest surge in COVID-19 infections. “While the evolution of the pandemic is getting back to March levels, our state of preparedness is not,” the EU executive’s vice-president, Margaritis Schinas, said, urging the bloc’s members to adopt a common strategy and avoid the “cacophony” of different national measures that characterised the first months of the crisis on the continent. Meanwhile, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde has warned, in her latest interview with French newspaper Le Monde, the economic recovery from the ongoing pandemic “risks losing momentum”, due to the second wave, and a further stimulus could be added if necessary.

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