With the northern hemisphere now heading into winter, France and Britain logged record daily rises in coronavirus cases Thursday, approaching the peak levels seen during the spring, as Spain heads toward tough weeks, authorities warned. The European Union raised the alarm over the pandemic, saying it is worse now than at the peak of March in several member countries as the second wave of coronavirus forces the reimposition of strict, economically devastating containment measures in many European countries.
France set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections Thursday, the fourth in eight days, while the number of people hospitalized for the disease went above 6,000 for the first time in more than two months. The number of coronavirus patients in Paris hospitals had more than doubled in three weeks, from 150 to 330, and would probably reach 600 by month's end, said deputy director Francois Cremieux. Numbers of COVID-19 patients in intensive care have followed a similar upward curve, from 50 three weeks ago to 132 on Wednesday and likely more than 200 by next week, he said. Those figures were published the day after the government announced extra restrictive measures, mainly in big cities and especially in Marseille, to contain the virus.
France's prime minister warned that if the government does not act to prevent the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, there could be a repeat of the situation at the peak of the crisis in March. "It's a race against time," Jean Castex said on France 2 television. "The public must be attentive and prudent. If we don't act we could find ourselves in a situation similar to spring," he added.
Spain's fight with the coronavirus suffered another blow Thursday as the country's comprehensive case count passed 700,000. Health authorities registered 10,653 new cases, bringing the overall count to more than 704,000. The next worst-affected European countries are France, with about 520,000, Britain, with about 410,000, and Italy, with about 300,000. Madrid remained one of the worst affected regions registering more than 40% of the new cases with 4,350 infections. Nationwide, the death toll stood at more than 31,000. That means the country has seen fewer deaths than Britain, with about 42,000, and Italy, with about 36,000.
UK records highest deaths
As of Thursday, Britain had the highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe, at 41,902. Health authorities in Britain announced a daily increase of 6,634 new coronavirus cases Thursday. The figure is the largest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic. However, when the virus was at its initial peak in March and April, testing capacities were much more limited, meaning there were likely further cases going undetected at the time.
Coronavirus infections in Britain have been rising sharply in the last month, bringing the total to 416,363 confirmed cases. Britain this week imposed fresh restrictions to try to stamp out a fast-spreading second wave of COVID-19 in the country, with government scientists warning there could be 50,000 new cases per day by mid-October without fresh curbs.
Italy was the first country outside China to face a major coronavirus outbreak but has managed to keep infection rates relatively low compared to Spain, France and Britain. Italians’ compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing is strong, and cases average around 1,500 a day.
In other parts of the world, the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 7 million Thursday, more than 20% of the world's total, as Midwest states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections in September. The latest milestone comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world's highest. Each day, over 700 people die in the U.S. from COVID-19. California leads the country with over 800,000 total cases, followed by Texas, Florida and New York.
The pandemic is ravaging Latin American nations with large informal economies where workers have grappled with the twin threats of hunger and contagion. Mexico has the world's fourth-highest coronavirus death toll with nearly 75,000 confirmed fatalities, behind the U.S., Brazil and India.
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