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How hard is the coronavirus second wave hitting in Europe?


Hospitals in Europe are filling up amid a resurgent tide of coronavirus infections and deaths lashing the continent's emergency wards.

Several countries are in partial lockdowns, with many hoping that restrictions will begin to have an effect as intensive care units fill up.

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

Czech Republic: one of Europe's worst-hit now sees some promising signs

Infections in the Czech Republic have started to decline after a two-month rise to record high levels. The number of people hospitalised also dropped below the 8,000-mark.

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.

But the country still has the EU's highest 14-day incidence rate for COVID-19 deaths with 26.1 fatalities per 100,000 population. It also has the highest cumulative number of cases.

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.

If cases continue to fall, the government has said that some kids could return to school.

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

Belgium: Virologists believe it has passed its peak

Belgian health authorities said on Monday (9 November) they're confident that the country has now passed the peak of hospital admissions in its second wave. It's been just over a week since the country reinstated their lockdown.

The small country of 11.5 million has lost 13,561 inhabitants since the beginning of the pandemic and it has the most cases worldwide as a proportion of the population. The situation got so bad in one hospital in Liege, nurses were asked to carry on working even if they tested positive for COVID-19.

Some 7,000 virus patients are being treated in Belgian hospitals now, a number up slightly since the previous week, the authorities said.

To break the chain of transmission, Belgium has returned to partial lockdown measures including closing nonessential shops, bars and restaurants, as well as extending the autumn school holidays to 15 November.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the new measures would stay in force for "at least a month and a half", at a press conference prior to the lockdown.

France: COVID patients make up nearly 95% of intensive care units

France's second wave of infections has impacted the entire country with infection numbers exceeding "even the most pessimistic projections".

The country's intensive care units are nearing saturation with 94.7% of intensive care units treating COVID patients, according to the government's Tous Anti Covid application.

With more than 1.8 million infections since the start of the health crisis, France has Europe's highest cumulative total of recorded cases and the fourth-highest worldwide.

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.

Some medical experts have said that the lockdown needs to be more strict. The country's health minister said on Monday that there were some indications that the epidemic may be beginning to slow.

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 testing and contact tracing method which was credited with keeping the country's death toll down.

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

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the measures were "to avoid a national health emergency".

Cases have been shooting up over recent weeks, culminating in a new daily record on 7 November of more than 23,000 cases.

More than 715,693 cases have so far been confirmed in Germany, with a death toll currently standing at 11,781 .

Italy: Country passes one million confirmed cases

Italy recorded more than one million cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic on Wednesday, a grim record already present in France, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The country recently instituted local lockdowns in four regions and a nationwide curfew in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

Amid a "worrying" surge in infections, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had imposed measures including nighttime curfews and the closure of cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools.

The governor of an autonomous Italian Alpine province famed for its ski resorts has declared it a “red zone,” shutting down as of Monday most non-essential shops, bars, cafes and restaurants from serving meals and forbidding citizens to leave their towns except for essential reasons like work.

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

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 7 it counted its record daily number of more than 8,000 cases, and the country has seen a total of 172,380 confirmed cases and 1,564 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 7 November Poland recorded its one day record for coronavirus cases with more than 27,000.

The total number of confirmed infections is now up to 618,813 with the death toll standing at 8,805.

Soldiers are being mobilised to conduct COVID-19 testing, so Medical News 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.

Spain: Curfews and confinements amid a 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 1.3 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in Spain since the beginning of the outbreak while nearly 39,345 have succumbed to the disease.

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.

Sweden: Has its more relaxed strategy helped 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 prime minister will also attempt to ban the sale of alcohol after 10pm from November 20.

The country also announced local restrictions in three more counties which are home to Sweden's largest cities. Restrictions on nightclubs have also been introduced.

UK: Deaths surpass 50,000, the most in Europe

The United Kingdom has become the first European country to pass 50,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to latest figures.

It comes after England entered a full national lockdown on 5 November in an effort to curb the spread and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

All non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes have been closed and people have been told to work from home where they can. Schools remain open throughout the lockdown.

Coronavirus restrictions vary between UK countries and Wales is now emerging from a 'firebreak' lockdown which was imposed earlier than the England lockdown.The government has been criticised for its handling of the pandemic and opposition leaders have said the country should have been locked down sooner.

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.

Portugal and Hungary impose curfew amid cases surge

Portugal, which like other European countries has seen new cases and hospital admissions surge in recent weeks, imposed a state of emergency and ordered some 7 million people — around 70% of its population — to stay home on weeknights from 11 pm to 5 am for at least the next two weeks.

They'll be even more limited over the weekends, allowed out only in the morning until 1 pm unless to buy essentials at supermarkets.

Hungary also imposed its strictest measures so far: an 8 pm to 5 am curfew announced by Prime Minister Viktor Orban. All businesses must close by 7 pm.

Other measures in Hungary mirrored those becoming depressingly familiar across Europe, including limits on eateries and sports events, family gatherings limited to 10 people and remote learning for high school and university students. The restrictions kick in Tuesday at midnight and will remain for at least 30 days.


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