Between October 11 and November 1, coronavirus cases measured by the accumulated seven days have risen 149.6% in Europe, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Since September 27, this increase is 313.9%. The acceleration of the pandemic on the continent has meant that of the 10 countries most affected in the last 14 days, seven (France, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Poland, Russia and Germany, in this order) are European. Only the United States (first), India (second) and Brazil (seventh) do not belong to the continent. In the next 10 most affected countries, six are European (Belgium, Holland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Romania)
The growth of the pandemic has been very rapid. On September 27, if the cases of the last seven days were taken, the continent was the third region in the world, behind America and what the WHO calls Southeast Asia, which goes from India to Singapore. Then, the cases in Europe were 21% of the total; on October 11 they were already 31%; on November 1 they were over 50%, when Europeans make up 10% of the world's population. "Europe is once again the epicenter of the pandemic," Hans Kluge, director of the WHO European office, said at the time. In these statements he warned that "hospitalizations have reached levels that were not seen since the spring (during the first wave), with 10 per 100,000 people admitted in a third of the countries." He also warned that "mortality has grown 32% in the region in a week" and that as "testing systems have not been able to keep up, the positivity exceeds 5% in most countries." This last indicator shows the percentage of analyzes that detect a case. The lower it is (it is estimated that its acceptable limit is 5%), it means that there is epidemiological control of the virus.
The continent is crossing its fingers at the effect of the drastic measures that are being taken. "The key question that many countries are asking is whether or not they should decree a total lockdown," admits Kluge, although both the WHO and the European Center for Disease Control believe that this should be the last resort, and warn that with This, apart from damage to mental, economic and social health, can aggravate the so-called pandemic fatigue of the population, and lose their cooperation. Also, the word confinement (lockdown, in English) is interpreted in each country in one way. In Spain, the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, warns that in many European countries they are decreeing what they call confinements but that, deep down, they are even less strict situations than in some Spanish communities, with Limitations on mobility and closure of establishments, even if educational centers remain open, for example.
"The second wave is violent" in France
As is the case between the autonomous communities, not all European countries are in the same situation. In Spain, the increase in the incidence rate, which measures new cases, has stabilized on average, but in territories that were better at the beginning of the second wave escalation (such as Asturias and Cantabria) it is launched, while there appears to be data positive for those that have been worse (as in Madrid and Navarra). Something similar happens in Europe. France is a clear example. The country has gone from registering 306,000 cases between October 6 and 21 to registering 670,000 in the following 15 days. "The second wave is not an abstraction: it is here and it is violent", warned this week the French Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. The occupancy rate of intensive care beds already rises to 87.2%, a total of 4,331 patients, reports Marc Bassets.
The possibility of an overflow of hospitals in France has led to the transfer of patients from border regions to German centers, and has reopened the debate on the possibility that, in the near future, it will be necessary to discriminate between patients. “There will be patients who will not be admitted for resuscitation. We prepare for it ”, he declared to Le Monde Bertrand Guidet, head of the intensive care service at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris. The number of cases has also skyrocketed: 60,486 in the 24 hours preceding the last update of the data published on Friday afternoon. On that day, the balance of deaths – some that occurred in previous days and registered later – increased by 828, reaching, since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 39,865 deaths. France has lived under a regime of national confinement since October 30, lighter, however, than the confinement of last spring, since schools, industry and administration remain open.
The pandemic, rampant in Italy
Italy is a case of a country that first seemed to resist the virus, but where then the epidemic has rampaged, reports Daniel Verdú. It is the fourth country in the world with the most cases in the last 14 days in the WHO data, 359,153, and the sixth in reported deaths, more than 40,000. The numbers of infections already exceed 30,000 daily and the deaths stood at 446 on Friday (in Spain on Friday they were 22,516 positives and 347 deaths). Diagnoses have almost quadrupled in the last 15 days (390,000) compared to the previous fortnight (106,863).
The Executive, after taking gentle measures throughout the month of September and October, has decided to divide the country into three levels of incidence to avoid damaging the economy where it is not completely necessary: yellow, orange and red. The most affected (Piedmont, Calabria, Valle d'Aosta and Lombardy) have been under a home confinement regime since Friday. The Ministry of Health will determine every 15 days which regions should raise or lower the level. Beyond the restrictions of each area, every country is already subject to a curfew from ten at night to five in the morning and all education from the age of 14 is carried out at a distance. Museums and exhibitions, as is the case with theaters and cinemas, will be closed. So will shopping malls on weekends and public transport capacity will be cut in half.
Stabilization in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany
Among the countries that are beginning to see faint beams of light is Ireland, where the incidence at 14 days has dropped two weeks after decreeing a lockdown very similar to that of spring, while in England, which entered a second severe lockdown last year Thursday, the virus continues to spread and the number of infected doubles every week, reports Rafa de Miguel. However, the National Statistical Office (ONS) has incorporated some optimism into the situation, with a stabilization in the number of new cases around 50,000 a day in the last week, when a regional strategy of restrictions was already being applied that in some areas of northern England were especially harsh. With the new national confinement, the ONS trusts that this stabilization of the virus will be consolidated.
Another country that could come close to stabilization is Germany. The second wave arrived late in the country, but continues to hit hard, reports Ana Carbajosa. This Saturday a record of daily infections has been registered again, six days after the new restrictions agreed by the federal government and the federated states came into force. In total, the Roberk Koch Institute estimates 23,399 positives and 130 deaths in the last 24 hours. In total, since the beginning of the epidemic, there have been 642,488 COVID-19 infections and 11,226 deaths. The incidence of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 inhabitants amounts to 133.
In Germany there is concern about the rapid growth in ICU bed occupancy, as well as the shortage of health personnel to care for intensive care patients. Meanwhile, due to the seriousness of the situation in the border countries, Germany is receiving these days patients from other European countries such as Belgium, given the saturation of the health services of some European partners. Since last Monday, bars have been closed and restaurants are only open to sell take-out. Gyms, cinemas, museums and in general all cultural activities are closed during the agreed month of restrictions. The first positive sign has been given by the so-called virus reproduction rate (R), which yesterday fell to 0.9 (less than one contagion per affected), which could point to a possible slowdown in the growth of infections in the next days.
Unreliable data in Russia, 100,000 cases daily in the US
Among the most affected, Russia, the fourth country in the world in cases, has the reliability of the data as its first problem, reports María R. Sahuquillo. Officially it has more than 20,000 infected and 364 a day, but the real cases, however, can be many more. The 30,251 deaths in the official Russian coronavirus registry do not match the more than 55,000 deaths with the covid that the state statistics institute (Rosstat) records between April and May. In addition, this week the experts of the Ministry of Health have admitted that between 30% and 40% of the tests that are made are negative because the samples are not taken correctly. The increase in cases has already saturated the Moscow hospital built expressly to house covid patients, inaugurated this spring and is having a serious effect on the regions – where two thirds of new cases are concentrated -, which face the virus with little means and a badly damaged healthcare system. The government, however, rules out lockdown measures such as those in the spring for now. Of the other major victims, the United States has been reporting more than 100,000 cases a day for two days (117,988 on Thursday) for a total of more than 9.5 million. Of the 10 worst affected countries, India is the only one that appears to have clearly passed the peak, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Brake in Brazil and Mexico
Brazil is the third country in the world in cases, but the sixth in the ranking of the last 14 days. This indicates a certain reversal of the pandemic. Anyway, the impact of the coronavirus is underestimated because it performs few tests, reports Naiara Galarraga. October was the first month with less than 20,000 deaths from the virus, which consolidates a decline that began three months earlier. Brazil, with 210 million inhabitants, adds more than 160,000 deaths – with an average of 400 this week – and almost 5.6 million infections. The Minister of Health, General Eduardo Palazuello, the third in charge of the portfolio in this crisis, had to be recently hospitalized for covid.
Life returns to normal as reflected by the return of the usual traffic jams. Bars, restaurants, discos, museums and live concerts have returned with audience restrictions, beaches require social distance, and students are returning to classrooms gradually and voluntarily. In the same way that each of the 26 states decided the rules of confinement, the conditions and rates of liberalization also vary because the disease moves at different speeds in this territory of continental dimensions. At the end of October, a third of the capitals, especially in the impoverished northeast, showed signs of increasing hospitalizations. But at this time, the cases are falling in most of the territory and the rest remains stable. The latest political controversy was President Jair Bolsonaro's rejection that the Chinese vaccine, which is being tested here, be incorporated into the national immunization calendar.
Mexico, another of the greats, seems to have slowed the rise in cases in the last week, according to the general director of Epidemiology, José Luis Alomía. The latest figures for this country, tenth in the world in total cases and twentieth in the world in the last 14 days, are 551 deaths and 5,931 infections, for a total of one million affected. Faced with this situation, the head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced on Friday that the hours of restaurants, casinos and gyms and the capacity of events in hotels will be reduced due to the increase in hospitalizations due to covid-19 in the capital , informs Micaela Varela.
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