Paris: France and the U.K. reported a record number of Covid-19 cases as most of Europe strains to control the resurgent pandemic.
The regional neighbors, separated by the Channel, are two of Europe’s biggest economies. Both are experiencing a disquieting resurgence of the virus after a devastating first wave in what was — and could become again — the focal point of Covid-19.
They are not alone: Spain recorded 3,471 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours as hospitals in the capital are under alarming strain.
Authorities across the region are fighting back with a series of piecemeal measures dubbed “lockdown lite.” Austria has banned apres-ski partying and the U.K. urged people to work from home for six months and shut down its pubs an hour early.
France followed suit by announcing it would close bars at 10 p.m. in Paris and several other urban centers, and shut them entirely in the Marseille region. The question remains if it’s enough as the continent heads into the winter flu season.
“If we don’t act, we could end up in a situation close to what happened in the spring — that could mean a new lockdown,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on France 2 television. “The situation is very worrying in the country, and especially serious in large metro areas.”
While doctors and health officials have gained experience in more than six months of dealing with the virus, authorities are warning of an increase in intensive-care patients in some regions.
Hospitals in Madrid are filling up with seriously ill Covid-19 patients.
The number of intensive-care beds with coronavirus patients in the Spanish capital region jumped to 39% on Thursday from 25% at the end of last week, according to official data. Miguel Hernan, a Harvard University epidemiology professor who has advised the Spanish government, said the way Spain counts capacity understates the strain.
At a French Senate committee hearing on Thursday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said the rate at which hospital wards are filling up in the greater Marseille region, known as Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, forced the government’s response.
“If we are taking significant measures in Marseille and in the PACA region, it is because things are going very quickly,” Veran said. “We are at more than 30% saturation of ICUs by Covid patients.”
France’s seven-day rolling average of new infections reached about 11,679, after breaching 10,000 for the first time on Sunday. Deaths in France rose by 52 to 31,511.- Bloomberg
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