Covid: How Worried Should We Be About Rising Cases In Europe?

, Covid: How Worried Should We Be About Rising Cases In Europe?, The Habari News

Rising Covid cases have led governments around Europe into quick action in an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year’s winter.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has already warned that “storm clouds are gathering” over Europe when it comes to Covid.

“There is no question that there is a wave of infection coming across Eastern Europe, Central Europe,” he said.

“I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people, we’ve been here before and we remember what happens when a wave starts rolling in.”

So what is the situation actually like in the worst-hit European countries at the moment, and how worried should we be?

What’s happening in Europe?

Germany reported 37,120 new infections on Friday, which is the largest jump in Covid cases the country has experienced since the pandemic began.

This means the rate of infection is at 169.9 per 100,0000 over the space of a week.

The number of Covid patients in Germany’s intensive care wards is also at its highest level since May.

Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said this week: “We’re experiencing above all a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

The country is reportedly considering introducing a lockdown for the unvaccinated.

Belgium has slightly more ICU patients per 100,000 people in comparison to Germany.

It is bringing forward a meeting where the country will decide on tighter Covid controls to Wednesday this week.

Hospital admissions are up 30% on a weekly basis, too. The country did reimpose pandemic restrictions three weeks ago after a brief hiatus without any measures, but Covid transmission rates continue to rise.

The country is allegedly considering making face mask-wearing mandatory again.

Ireland’s prime minister is “extremely concerned” by the rise in infections shortly after it lifted the strictest lockdown in the EU.

The government is considering wider antigen testing, more digital Covid certificates, more booster jabs, mandatory mask wearing outdoors at sporting events and a call to work from home.

The Netherlands has approximately the same number of ICU occupants as the UK at the moment.

However, the Netherlands is currently under a partial lockdown for at least three weeks.

Austria has introduced a 10-day lockdown for its unvaccinated population, while Croatia and Slovenia hit their highest number of daily Covid cases back at the beginning of November.

Why is this happening now?

The colder weather means fewer people are mixing outdoors, where the wind can blow the Covid molecules away.

, Covid: How Worried Should We Be About Rising Cases In Europe?, The Habari News

Vaccine hesitancy is a major factor, not just in Germany but in Slovakia, where only 46% of the population is fully immunised, in Poland, where only 53% are double jabbed and in Romania, where approximately a third of the population have been vaccinated.

Waning vaccine efficacy is partially responsible too, while mask fatigue has seen some people become more reluctant to cover their faces in public spaces.

Should people in the UK be worried?

Hans Kluge, the regional head of the World Health Organisation, has warned that the UK could see more infections as a result of the European wave.

He said: “Today, every single country in Europe and Central Asia is facing a real threat of Covid-19 resurgence, or is already fighting it.”

He warned that Covid was transmitting across the continent at a fast pace, and Europe risked becoming the “epicentre” of the pandemic once again, according to the Financial Times.

Downing Street has not even introduced “plan B’, mandatory face masks or social distancing rules, the UK could also be more vulnerable.

, Covid: How Worried Should We Be About Rising Cases In Europe?, The Habari News
An Austrian resident receives the Pfizer vaccine

What’s the situation in the UK at the moment?

Covid deaths in England and Wales have reached their highest number since the week leading up to March 12 during the national lockdown earlier this year when 1,501 deaths were registered.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 995 deaths were registered with Covid on the death certificate in England and Wales in the week leading up to November 5, equating to approximately one in 12 deaths in England and Wales .

That shows a 16% increase on the previous week.

However, it’s important to note that the deaths still remain much lower than those registered last winter in the second wave. At that wave’s particular peak, 1,484 died on a single day on January 19.

Deaths involving Covid have increased in seven of the nine regions and in Wales.

The NHS is also coping with the increased backlog from the pandemic, which could reduce its capacity to deal with Covid patients.

, Covid: How Worried Should We Be About Rising Cases In Europe?, The Habari News

PA Graphics

Deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales broken down by week – data from ONS

How come not everyone thinks this will be a problem?

While the UK’s Covid infections and deaths are ticking upwards again, this does not necessarily mean the beginning of another wave.

Professor Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University told The Observer that the UK had already experienced the Covid wave running through Europe at the moment, after the Delta variant took hold last year.

He claimed: “I think the UK is ahead at present and Europe is following us.”

Woolhouse said the Delta variant is “substantially more serious” than previous strains of the virus, and “it hit many European countries much later than it did in Britain”.

He continued: “It has struck in these nations at a time when vaccine protection – typically in the most vulnerable, the ones who were vaccinated first – has begun to wane significantly. That is not an ideal situation at all.”

Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London, a member of the government’s independent advisory board SAGE, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme the UK has seen very high case numbers since the beginning of July.

He explained: “It has also, paradoxically, had an upside of boosting the immunity of the population compared with countries like Germany, the Netherlands and France, which have had much lower case numbers and are only now seeing an uptick.”

Others pointed out that the UK rolled out the vaccine programme earlier, too, which could reduce its chances of experiencing another wave.