West European countries see unprecedented surge in new COVID-19 cases

Spain has become the first European country to record more than one million cases with France set to follow suit. Italy, Germany and the UK are badly affected too

October 22, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
People wearing masks in Madrid Spain. Photo: Xinhua/Meng Dingbo

On Wednesday October 21, Spain became the first western European country to have more than a million COVID-19 infections. It is only the sixth nation in the world to have recorded a million cases so far. Other countries in the list are the US, India, Brazil, Russia and Argentina.

The number of new infections and deaths in the country has seen a steep rise since the late August which had forced the government to bring back some of the restrictions on people’s movement lifted earlier. On Wednesday alone, Spain recorded around 17,000 new cases with over 156 deaths. The country had a total of 34, 366 COVID-19 related deaths so far.

France, which is recording more than 25,000 new cases daily for some days now is set to join Spain and become the seventh country to have recorded more than a million cases. As on Wednesday, October 21, it had 999,744 COVID-19 cases with over 34,000 deaths. France has imposed curfews in nine regions including the capital Paris and several more regions are expected to face similar curfews soon. Several hospitals in and around Paris are facing an overload of cases.

 

In the second round of COVID-19 outbreak, Italy, one of the worst affected countries in the first outbreak, has broken all previous records in terms of new infections. On Wednesday it recorded 15, 199 new cases. This is the single largest one-day increase in the country ever.  The spike in new cases has forced the government to bring back curfews. According to a Reuters report, the regions near the capitol Rome will have curfew beginning at 5 AM on Friday, October 23.

Germany, which had been able to restrict the number of cases and overall death in the first wave of the outbreak, is now recording the highest single daily infections ever. The country is recording more than 10,000 new infections every day and its total deaths is nearing 10,000. On Wednesday, the country’s health minister Jeans Spahn tested positive.

The UK recorded over 26, 600 new cases on Wednesday. Its overall tally reached 7,89,229. Several other countries in the region are recording a record number of new daily cases. The surge in the cases has forced the countries to take measures to reimpose some of the restrictions on the movement of people and impose physical distancing norms more strictly. The restrictions first imposed in March and April were lifted in May-June.

In England and in other countries health experts have warned that a new wave of high death numbers is expected. According to one Guardian report, mere lockdown measures will not be enough to check the deaths. The expert recommended massive, decentralized early testing to prevent the new deaths in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned on October 16 that the number of deaths due to COVID-19 infections in Europe can exceed five times its April peak in a few months if urgent lockdown measures and other precautions are not taken.

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