How hard is the coronavirus second wave hitting elsewhere in Europe?

Lockdowns, curfews and regional restrictions are being introduced across Europe to combat a spike in coronavirus cases.

Medical staff and nurses wearing face masks gather during a protest demanding an improvement in wages and labour conditions at La Paz hospital in Madrid, Spain
Medical staff and nurses wearing face masks gather during a protest demanding an improvement in wages and labour conditions at La Paz hospital in Madrid, Spain – Copyright AP Photos

Here is a recap of what’s happening in key countries across the continent.null

Czech Republic: Europe’s coronavirus epicentre?

The eastern European country has recorded an average of 12,000 new cases each day over the past week.

On 5 November it recorded its one day record for cases, 15,731.

It has the EU’s highest 14-day incidence rate for COVID-19 deaths with 14.1 fatalities per 100,000 population.

It also has the second-highest incidence rate for cases after Belgium with 1,481 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

The government has responded by shutting hospitality businesses, schools and limiting public gatherings to two people.

The army has set up a 500-bed field hospital in Prague.

Meanwhile, volunteers are being trained to take the pressure off a health service under huge pressure.

Belgium: One of the worst coronavirus fatality rates in the world

Belgium became the latest European country to announce a return to strict lockdown measures last Friday as cases of COVID-19 shot up.

Non-essential businesses have closed, employees were told to work remotely wherever possible and school holidays in the country were extended by three days to November 15.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced the new measures, which started on Monday, November 2 and will stay in force for “at least a month and a half”, at a press conference last Friday.

He called the regulations “last chance measures” to try to slow down the pandemic in Belgium.

The small country of 11.5 million has lost 12,520 inhabitants since the beginning of the pandemic.

Its deaths per 100,000 population ratio is 93, and it has the most cases worldwide as a proportion of the population.

Nighttime curfews have been imposed, bars, cafés and restaurants have been forced to close their doors and social gatherings are severely limited. Travel between regions is restricted.

The situation is so bad in one hospital in Liege that nurses have been asked to carry on working even if they test positive for COVID-19.

France: Soaring cases lead to a new month-long lockdown

The country has entered a second national lockdown, which will last until December 1. All non-essential shops are closed. People will need to fill in a form to justify getting out of their houses but schools, factories and building works will continue.

President Emmanuel Macron said it was necessary to curb spiking numbers of infections which have surpassed “even the most pessimistic projections”.

So far over 1.6 million people have contracted COVID-19 in France and more than 39,000 have lost their lives.

On Thursday it emerged that France’s intensive care units were heading towards saturation point.

Germany: New partial lockdown to ‘avoid a national health emergency’

Germany was seen as a role model in the spring for its fast and aggressive contact tracing method which was credited with keeping the country’s death toll down.

However, rising cases has pushed the government to announce a partial lockdown from November 2. Bars, cafes and restaurants are among the businesses that have closed nationwide.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the measure was “to avoid a national health emergency”.

Cases have been shooting up over recent weeks, culminating in a new daily record on 5 November of 19,990 cases.

More than 597,000 cases have so far been confirmed in Germany, with a death toll currently standing at 10,930.

Italy: Curfews amid a ‘worrying’ surge in cases

The southern country was the first in Europe to impose a local and then national lockdown in early March to stem the quick spread of the virus.

Now, amid a “worrying” surge in infections, Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte has imposed new measures, including nighttime curfews and the closure of cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools.

The new restrictions were met with anger with protests breaking out in Rome and other cities.

The country has recorded more than 30,000 new daily cases on three occasions in the last few days, and currently has a total of 790,377. Its death toll is the second highest in Europe after the UK at 39,764.

Austria sees record spike in cases

Austria has imposed new restrictions as the country experiences a big spike in cases.

On November 5 it counted its record daily number of more than 6,500, and the country has seen a total of 125,229 confirmed cases and 1,204 deaths.

While schools and nurseries remain open, people are not allowed out between 8pm and 6am and private meetings are limited to a maximum of two homes.

Additionally, museums, theatres and other cultural and sporting venues are closed, events are cancelled, and even Christmas markets have been shut.

Poland: National stadium turned into a field hospital

On 5 November Poland recorded its one day record for coronavirus cases with 24,692.

It also posted a record number of deaths in 24 hours, 373.

The total number of confirmed infections is now up to 439,536 with the death toll standing at 6,475.

Soldiers are being mobilised to conduct COVID-19 testing, so medical professionals can focus on helping patients while other spaces, including Warsaw’s National Stadium, are being transformed into field hospitals.

Bars and restaurants have been closed and gatherings of more than five people have been banned.

The authorities are partly blaming the rise in cases on protests against a ruling from the constitutional court wich further restricted abortions in the country.

Spain: Curfews and confinements amid state of emergency

Authorities in Spain declared a national state of emergency last week that is to last a minimum of 15 days but could be extended for up to six months, which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said was the amount of time “necessary to overcome the most damaging stage of the pandemic”.

Nighttime curfews have been imposed across the country and travel between regions is strongly discouraged.

The country was hit hard and fast by the first wave and imposed one of the strictest lockdowns.

More than 1.28 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in Spain since the beginning of the outbreak while nearly 38,118 have succumbed to the disease.

Sweden: Has its more relaxed strategy help it avoid COVID fatigue?

Sweden, which drew criticism during the first wave for eschewing a strict lockdown and betting on herd immunity, is now urging people to avoid stores and transport.

The country of 10 million people now has 137,730 reported cases and nearly 6,000 deaths.

“We are going in the wrong direction. The situation is very serious,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said. “Now, every citizen needs to take responsibility. We know how dangerous this is.”

New measures which came into force on Tuesday include limits on capacity in restaurants and cafés with a maximum of eight people at any table.

The country also announced local restrictions in three more counties that include Sweden’s largest cities.

Restrictions on nightclubs have also been recently introduced.

UK: National lockdown imposed in England

Britain remains Europe’s most heavily impacted country. To slow the second wave currently sweeping the country, the government has imposed a new nationwide lockdown in England until December 2.

There has already been a ‘firebreak’ lockdown in place in Wales, which is now emerging from it.

Initially, the government had rolled out a multi-tier system with local areas forced into certain restrictions based on their epidemiological situation.

The government has been criticised for its handling with some experts demanding stricter measures.

A study released last Wednesday said that as many as 100,000 people are contracting the disease daily in England with the outbreak doubling every nine days.

By : Euronews with AP

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