European countries are again seeing a surge in infections amid the ongoing battle to contain outbreaks with only four countries measuring below a crucial level of COVID-19 cases, according to the latest figures released earlier this week.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's (ECDC) coronavirus alarm threshold is 20 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day average. The agency found only Germany (18.4 cases per 100,000), Finland (15.5), Greek Cyprus (14.6) and Norway (13.9) fell below this case threshold.
Europe has recorded more than 235,000 deaths so far and is approaching a caseload of 6 million out of the more than 35.2 million cases officially diagnosed across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that figure is likely a fraction of the actual count, which the U.N. health body estimated at one in 10 of the world's 7.8 billion people.
Poland on Wednesday reported a daily record of 3,003 new COVID-19 cases and also a record 75 deaths, as it imposes new restrictions to try to dodge a full lockdown. Poland's surge in infections is accompanied by a regional spike in cases, with the Czech Republic reporting 4,457 new cases on Wednesday – the fastest rise in Europe to date. The region initially managed to record fewer cases than Western Europe during the first wave of the pandemic but has struggled to keep cases down in recent weeks as it seeks to avoid lockdowns and the associated economic fallout.
In Western Europe, Germany set a new record for the number of COVID-19 cases in a day, numbers higher than in the second half of April when case counts were then at their peak. The number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators is also up compared with a week ago, and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the national disease control agency, said on Wednesday that 2,828 more cases had been confirmed in the last one-day period. At the height of the pandemic in late March and early April, Germany was counting more than 6,000 new cases per day before they fell off markedly. However, the numbers began trending upward again in July. The country has marked record high daily numbers for the period after the April peak several times in the last few weeks. The latest figures released Wednesday showed a further 16 people died after catching the virus, bringing the death toll to 9,562.
In Brussels, the Belgian capital took a step toward restoring its COVID-19 lockdown Wednesday, ordering cafes and bars to close for a month. Restaurants serving meals at tables will remain open, but bars and drinking alcohol in public places will be banned until Nov. 8, the regional government said. This is the second time Brussels has imposed such measures since the initial outbreak of the virus after a previous lockdown helped bring cases down. Nonetheless, new infections, as well as serious cases involving hospital admissions and regional authorities, are tightening the rules again.
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