Europe is in a dire situation as new cases of coronavirus surge leading to schools being closed and events being cancelled. Earlier on Wednesday, the French government declared a public health state of emergency and imposed curfew on its citizens while other European countries are seeing a rise in the number of cases of the coronavirus.
New cases are hitting as high as 100,000 daily which has seen Europe overtaking the United States in the number of daily cases (US has over 51,000 COVID-19 infection cases being reported on average per day).
With the number in European countries like France seriously climbing, this had prompted the French president Emmanuel Macron to announce a curfew that will last for four weeks starting from Saturday in Paris and other major cities which have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
“We have to react,” Macron said in an interview on national television. He said France had not lost control of the virus, but added: “We are in a worrying situation.”
There was a ease of lockdown over the summer in order to put the economy back into motion but this had definitely led to the presumed “second-wave” of the coronavirus infection as schools and entertainment arenas like restaurants were opened.
Bars and pubs were among the first to shut or face earlier closing in the new lockdown, but now the surging infection rates are also testing governments’ resolve to keep schools and non-COVID medical care going.
Even Pope Francis was subject to new coronavirus rules, staying put at a safe distance from well-wishers at his weekly audience on Wednesday.
The report of the Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo testing positive for the virus further confirmed the fact that anyone is liable to contract the infection irrespective of their status of type of job.
Czech on the other hand has switched to e-Learning and plans to call up thousands of medical students to assist as hospitals in the country are cutting non-urgent medical procedures in order to free up beds.
“Sometimes we are at the edge of crying,” said Lenka Krejcova, a head nurse at Slany hospital near Prague, as builders hurried to turn a general ward into a COVID-19 department.
Poland is ramping up training for nurses and considering creating military field hospitals, Moscow is to move many students to online learning, and Northern Ireland is closing schools for two weeks and restaurants for four.
“I don’t have any good information. We are on the brink of disaster,” immunologist Pawel Grzesiowski said in Poland, which reported a record 6,526 infections and 116 deaths on Wednesday.
As for vaccination, there were efforts being made by top companies like Johnson & Johnson but the company had to pause its trial due to unexplained illness in a study participant. U.S. AstraZeneca’s trial is also on hold and its been more than a month since that.
Russia, which recorded a record daily increase in cases, has meanwhile granted regulatory approval to a second vaccine.
Tough choice to make
In Germany, the country had tried to not close schools and the same had been the case in other European countries like in England and France meanwhile German politicians are debating whether to extend the Christmas-New Year school break to curb contagion.
The Netherlands returned to partial lockdown, closing bars and restaurants, but kept schools open.
European infections have been running at an average of almost 100,000 a day – about a third of the global total – forcing governments to tighten restrictions while attempting to avoid destroying livelihoods.
The United Kingdom, France, Russia and Spain accounted for more than half of Europe’s new cases in the week to Oct. 11, according to the World Health Organization.
In the United States, with the world’s highest number of confirmed infections, 22 states have so far in October set records for increases in new cases. But deaths are trending downward and have averaged 700 a day over the last week.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces opposition calls for another national lockdown in England, but has so far resisted. Hospital admissions, however, are climbing and field hospitals constructed in the spring are once more being readied.
London faces tighter restrictions within days according to reports from the Financial Times. Meanwhile in Spain, authorities have ordered bars and restaurants to close for the next 15 days and limited the numbers of people that will be allowed in shops.
In Belgium, with Europe’s second worst infection rate per capita, hospitals must now reserve a quarter of their beds for COVID-19 patients.
“We can’t see the end of the tunnel today,” Renaud Mazy, managing director of the University Clinics of Saint-Luc in Brussels, told La Premiere radio. Also in Austria, the country which had been hailed for being the most successful at battling the coronavirus outbreak have had clusters emerging in two of its most populous states while New South Wales delays ever relaxing its restrictions.
And new curbs have been imposed in Malaysia, where the royal palace postponed all meetings for two weeks.