Europe heads back towards lockdown as hospitals fill with COVID patients

Jimmy Nsubuga
·4 min read

Watch: Europe faces tougher virus curbs

A number of European countries are locking down again as COVID-19 surges across the continent.

Tuesday’s World Health Organization (WHO) figures showed the region reported 1.3 million new cases in the past seven days, nearly half the 2.9 million reported worldwide, and over 11,700 deaths, a 37% jump over the previous week.

The WHO’s Dr Margaret Harris warned that deaths are spiking and hospitals filling up across Europe.

Germany and France are among the European countries preparing to announce restrictions that approach the severity of the blanket lockdowns seen in spring.

Germany will impose an emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

France is also expected to enforce a 4-week lockdown.

A chart showing the rise in daily deaths across Europe
Daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rising. (Our World in Data)
Daily deaths are not expected to be as high as in the spring (Picture: Our World in Data)
Daily deaths are not expected to reach the peaks seen in spring. (Our World in Data)

It has also emerged that scientific advisers to the UK government think the second wave will be deadlier than the first.

Daily deaths are not expected to be as high as the first wave but will continue for a longer period of time, according to internal analysis from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the Telegraph reported.

The group warned that the whole of England may need a Tier 3 coronavirus lockdown by mid-December, which would hamper Boris Johnson’s hopes to ease certain restrictions at Christmas.

WARRINGTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: People wear face masks in Warrington town centre as the borough enters Covid-19 Tier 3 'Very High' lockdown restrictions on October 27, 2020 in Warrington, England. Public Health England data over the last seven days showed 830 new positive cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) forcing the town into Tier 3 restrictions. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson is facing pressure to put the whole of England under lockdown. (Getty Images)

Is the UK heading for another full lockdown?

The prime minister is under increasing pressure to lock down as cases spike.

COVID deaths on Tuesday were at their highest since May, and hospitals have been forced to cancel surgery as beds fill up.

However the PM, who is also facing separate pressure from Tory MPs to map out an exit strategy from the local lockdowns, is resisting the calls, saying the the three-tier local strategy is the best one.

France expected to lock down on Wednesday

President Emmanuel Macron will give a televised address on Wednesday evening in which he is expected to announce further curbs on people’s movements following curfew measures introduced last week.

The new restrictions, which follow similar moves in Italy and Spain, are expected to leave schools and most businesses working and be less severe than the near-total lockdowns imposed in March and April.

France has seen more than 50,000 new cases a day, and prime minister Jean Castex has warned that intensive care units will be saturated by 11 November if nothing is done to curb the pandemic.

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A man wears a face mask while standing on a street in Pfarrkirchen, a town of the county district Rottal-Inn in Bavaria, on October 27, 2020 after a local lockdown was imposed because of the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
Germany will increase restrictions this week. (Getty Images)

Germany heading for 'lockdown lite'

Germany will impose an emergency month-long lockdown.

Effective 2 November, private gatherings will be limited to ten people from a maximum of two households.

Restaurants, bars, theatres, cinemas, pools and gyms will be shut and concerts cancelled.

Professional sports events will be allowed only without spectators.

People will be asked not to travel for private, non-essential reasons, and overnight stays in hotels will be available only for necessary business trips.

Schools and daycare centres will, however, remain open, as will shops, so long as they stick to social distancing and hygiene rules.

Czech Republic back in lockdown

The country has shown Europe’s fastest infection rates over the past two weeks, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, with 1,324 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in that time.

The health ministry reported 164 new deaths on Tuesday, including 75 on Monday and revisions to previous days.

Czech Republic’s total COVID death toll is 2,365, and has roughly doubled since 13 October.

The government will implement a 9pm curfew and has already shut bars, restaurants, most retail outlets, theatres and sport and fitness venues.

Belgium, Spain, Italy also tightening restrictions

Belgium’s federal government are to decide by this weekend whether a return to a nationwide lockdown is required, as the country grapples with a resurgence in coronavirus cases and hospitals risk running out of beds, an official said.

Spain’s government faced a backlash on Monday over its plans to put the country, one of Europe’s worst COVID-19 hotspots, under a state of emergency for six months that includes the continuation of a curfew and a ban on free transit in and out of territories.

Protests flared across Italy on Monday against a new round of government restrictions, with violence reported in at least two major northern cities, Milan and Turin.

COVID-19 has now infected more than 42 million people and killed more than 1.1 million worldwide.

Watch: Can you catch the coronavirus twice?

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