10 countries in the European Union experience an increase in Covid-19 cases

10 countries in the European Union experience an increase in Covid-19 cases

TEN countries in the European Union face a critical COVID-19 situation as the pandemic worsens across the continent.

“The overall epidemiological situation is characterized by a high and rapidly increasing overall case notification rate and a low but slowly increasing death rate,” the European Center for Disease Control said on Friday. “Case notification rates, death rates, and hospital and intensive care admissions are expected to increase over the next two weeks.”

In its latest weekly risk assessment, the agency ranked 10 EU countries as the category of most concern: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. “The countries with the lowest vaccination rates continue to be the most affected,” the agency said.

Germany is among the 13 other EU countries classified as countries of high concern and France among three countries of medium concern. Italy, Malta, Spain and Sweden haven’t received much attention.

The agency said four countries had been raised to a higher category since the last assessment, and five had been demoted. The number of cases and deaths is expected to increase by around 50% over the next two weeks, the agency added, reaching a weekly rate of 300 new cases and 2.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

The assessment takes into account the 27 countries of the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

pandemic center

Europe has once again become the epicenter of the pandemic, prompting some governments to reconsider imposing lockdowns before Christmas and sparking debate over whether a vaccine alone is enough to tame COVID-19 or not. Europe accounts for more than half of the seven-day average of infections worldwide and around half of the latest deaths, the highest level since April last year when the virus first hit Italy times.

The new fury comes as the vaccination campaign peaked ahead of the cold winter months and flu season. About 65% of the population in the European Economic Area (EEA) which includes the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have received two doses, according to EU data, but the pace has slowed these last months.

Vaccinations in southern European countries account for around 80%, but doubts have hampered deployments in central and eastern Europe and Russia, leading to epidemics that could overwhelm health services. Germany, France and the Netherlands are also experiencing spikes in infections, posing a challenge even for governments with high acceptance rates and high hopes that the vaccine will bring life back to near normal levels. .

Admittedly, hospitalizations and deaths are much lower than last year and the large variations between countries in the use of vaccines and boosters and measures such as social distancing make it difficult to draw conclusions for the whole region.

Don’t be careless

But a combination of low vaccine use in some areas, waning immunity among those vaccinated early, and an early ignorance of masks and social distancing as the government eases restrictions over the course of the year. summer may be to blame, according to virologists and public health experts. “If there is one thing to learn from this, watch it,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School in Britain.

The latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO) for the week of November 7 showed that Europe, including Russia, was the only region to have seen a 7% increase in cases. Other regions reported a decline or a stable trend. The report also noted a 10% increase in deaths, while other regions reported a drop.

The bleak outlook is causing shakes in businesses and governments, fears that a prolonged pandemic could derail a fragile economic recovery, especially as transatlantic flights resume this week and borders begin to reopen. In Germany, several cities have reportedly canceled Christmas markets again, while the Netherlands have closed theaters and cinemas, canceled major events and closed cafes and restaurants earlier.

Most EU countries are rolling out additional injections for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, but expanding it to a wider population and giving the vaccine into the arm of an adolescent should be a priority for avoid measures such as lockdown, scientists say. “The real urgency is to expand the number of people vaccinated as much as possible,” said Carlo Federico Perno, head of the diagnostic microbiology and immunology department at Bambino Ges hospital in Rome.

Protect children

The EU Medicines Regulatory Authority is evaluating the use of Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines in children aged 5 to 11. The data justifies the steps.

German figures for the week through October 31 show that the number of cases is highest among relatively young people. The over 60s are mostly hospitalized.

Hospitalization rates of unvaccinated people over 60 were also significantly higher than those of vaccinated people. Last month, around 56% of COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the Netherlands and 70% of intensive care patients were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

“This (epidemic) will likely lead the EU to consider a booster dose and say ‘we need it ahead of time’,” said Michael Head, senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton. Still struggling to increase vaccinations, governments in central and eastern Europe must take drastic action.

Facing the worst of the epidemic, Latvia, one of the least vaccinated countries in the EU, imposed a four-week lockdown in mid-October. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia have also tightened restrictions. The Czech cabinet will examine further necessary measures on Friday.

In Western Europe, Dutch experts have recommended imposing a partial lockdown, the first in Western Europe since the summer. In Germany, a bill would allow measures such as mandatory masks and social distancing in public spaces to continue until March.

The country reported a record 50,196 new cases on Thursday, its fourth consecutive daily record. Some survive. The UK is relying on booster shots for people over 50 to boost immunity. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to implement his Plan B which involves mask warrants, vaccine permits and work-from-home orders.

Vaccines alone are not a silver bullet to beating the pandemic in the long run, virologists say. Some cite Israel as an example of good practice, in addition to vaccination, the region has stepped up the wearing of masks and introduced vaccination passports after the peak of cases a few months ago.

Read also: WHO: One million Afghan children risk dying of malnutrition

Measures such as distance, masks and mandatory vaccines for indoor locations are essential, said Antonella Viola, professor of immunology at the Italian University of Padua. “If either of those two things is missing, we see a situation like the one we have seen in many European countries lately,” he said. (Straitstimes / OL-14)


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