Europe is at a critical juncture in the fight against the coronavirus. The second wave put the whole continent, the hardest hit in the world, on the ropes. For the second consecutive week, Europe is the epicenter of the pandemic, with the highest proportion of new infections. Last week, according to WHO data, 1.3 million cases were registered, 33% more than in the previous week. Infections in the European region (which includes 53 countries, including Russia) already account for almost half (46%) of the cases recorded worldwide. The WHO also warns that deaths continue to increase and account for one third of all deaths in the world.
The pressure on health systems in countries like France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and the United Kingdom has once again put the word in the mouth of its leaders confinement, in his case regarding home, the one who lived across Europe between March and May, more or less strict. Hospitalizations in hospitals, especially in intensive care units, trace an upward curve that begins to put health care at risk. European Commissioner of Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides warned yesterday that the situation is “very alarming”. The occupancy of European ICUs has doubled in three weeks (between September 21 and October 12, according to data from the European Center for Disease Control, ECDC, which does not include all countries).
Some states fear the collapse of a hospital in a matter of weeks if they are unable to decrease the infection rate. The Czech Republic, which has the worst cumulative incidence in the EU (1,449 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days) asked its army to set up a 500-bed field hospital in the capital, Prague, to care for patients with less severe coronaviruses and, thus, freeing hospitals to better treat critics. The country started August with just over 100 hospitalized for coronavirus. On September 30th, there were 10 more times. They now exceed 6,000.
The situation in Belgium is also very complicated, with an incidence of 1,424, the second highest. Belgian officials have warned that the country could be without intensive care beds in just two weeks and acknowledge that some hospitals are understaffed. Non-urgent operations and visits are being suspended. The country is adding about 13,000 new cases every day. A hospital in Liège, near the border with the Netherlands, asked nurses who were positive for coronavirus, but asymptomatic, to continue working, according to Euronews. Neighboring Netherlands, with 711 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, began sending patients to Germany, as it did during the first wave, reports Isabel ferrer. Hospitalizations of patients with coronavirus grew 17% in the past week compared to the previous week, a percentage similar to the increase in ICUs (16%), which indicates a very rapid growth.
The curve of new cases diagnosed in the UK (incidence 424) is skyrocketing, almost vertically. The country has 852 people admitted to intensive care units (data from last Monday). On October 5, there were 393, which means that in just three weeks the number more than doubled. British hospitals have been receiving more than 1,000 new patients for days. Mark Walport, a member of SAGE – the scientific committee that advises the British government – said on Wednesday that the number of inpatients could exceed the peak of the first wave in late November if a new confinement is not imposed. Walport told the BBC that if the rate of infection does not decrease, the 9,199 patients currently in hospital could more than double by then.
Italians had not heard the word of their prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, for months: “Lockdown”, confinement. It is “the scenario that must be avoided at all costs”, but the Italian Government is beginning to consider it. Since Monday, bars and restaurants closed at six in the afternoon, in an attempt to curb the growth of infections, 25,000 new ones on Wednesday, when 205 deaths were also recorded. The increase in cases was accompanied by hospitalizations and admissions to the ICU. According to ECDC data, daily occupancy in Italian ICUs has doubled in just over two weeks. As of September 28, there were 264 patients with coronavirus in intensive care. As of October 14 (last available date) there were already 539.
France and Germany, better off than many of their neighbors, took further action on Wednesday amid fears of the hospital’s collapse. Germany, with an incidence of 156 according to ECDC, announced the closure of hospitality, cinemas, gyms and hotels for tourism for a month. In France (incidence 660), the number of hospitalized patients is growing very rapidly. On Tuesday, 18,978 people with coronaviruses were hospitalized and 2,918 in the ICU. On October 12, there were 1,548, that is, in two weeks the beds occupied by the critic doubled.
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