Covid surges across Europe as experts warn not to let your guard down | Coronavirus

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Several European countries are seeing a significant rise in new Covid-19 infections, as experts warn that with nearly all restrictions lifted and often weak recall, cases could soar throughout the summer, resulting in more deaths.

According to scientific aggregator Our World in Data, the seven-day rolling average of new confirmed cases per million inhabitants is increasing in countries such as Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Portugal saw the most dramatic surge, with infections per million remaining at a seven-day average of 2,043 on Monday – the second highest rate of new cases in the world, although down slightly from a peak from 2,878 at the beginning of June.

In France, the corresponding figure rose from 224 on June 13 to 920 in the space of a week. “The pandemic is accelerating again, despite the hot weather,” said Dr Benjamin Davido, infectious disease specialist at Raymond-Poincaré hospital in the Paris region.

“The new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are 10% to 15% more infectious and that’s what gives the virus an extra boost,” Davido told French radio, adding that in the medium term the situation could become “very hard” in the country‘s hospitals.

“We are in a very special situation in which it is vital to maintain stable immunity through boosters.” Hospitals could fill up over the summer, he said, unless vulnerable people and people over 60 get a fourth dose as soon as possible.

Health expert Dr Damien Mascret told France 2 television that the BA.4 and BA.5 variants had led to a significant excess of deaths in Portugal, adding that hospital admissions in France had increased by 27% and intensive care admissions by 17% in one week.

“The festive season is about to start, almost all the restrictions have been eased, things could pick up again very quickly indeed,” he said. “It is concerning that only 29% of over-60s have so far received the fourth dose to which they are all entitled.”

The seven-day average infection rate per million is lower in Germany, reaching 715 on Monday, but has been rising steadily since the first week of June when it stood at 324. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach spoke of a “summer wave” of new cases.

“It has unfortunately become a fact,” Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post newspaper last week, adding on Twitter that vulnerable people should get a fourth vaccine and suggesting masks were a good idea in enclosed spaces.

German medical association BÄK recently urged the government to prepare for a Covid attack in autumn and winter, calling for additional planning to ensure schools remain open, vulnerable people are protected and hospitals operate normally. .

The Berlin government’s expert advisory board said the country had both a “high level of immunity” and variants causing relatively mild symptoms, but warned of a worst-case scenario in which hospitals could be overwhelmed.

Combining a more dangerous variant with rapidly declining immunity could pose serious problems, he said in a report, adding that indoor masks and capacity limits at major public events could soon to be advised, along with stricter measures in areas with more severe outbreaks.

Greece also saw its seven-day average of new infections rise, from 377 per million on June 13 to 681 this week. The Department of Health said on Monday that cases would rise further, but it did not expect an increase in admissions or deaths in intensive care.

In Italy, new infections fell from 354 per million to 549 in the space of a week. The ISS, the country’s national health institute, said cases had risen for the second week in a row, with the rate of transmission rising to epidemic levels.

The percentage of infected patients in intensive care units has continued to drop, but only one of Italy’s 21 regions is still considered to be at “low” risk, with 14 being classified as “moderate” and the remaining six as “high” due to the growing number of alerts.

Professor Walter Ricciardi, the institute’s former president, told Adnkronos that the government may have eased the restrictions too quickly. “It’s our third summer (of the pandemic) and we still haven’t learned our lesson,” Ricciardi said.

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“In the most favorable periods for the fight against viruses, spring and summer, we cannot lower our guard, and we must also prepare for unfavorable conditions in the fall, and I do not think that it be done.”

The number of cases in the Netherlands has risen for the third week in a row, the Dutch public health institute RIVM said on Tuesday, blaming the global increase in the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. According to Our World in Data, the Dutch seven-day infection rate fell from 117 per million to 204 per million in the past week.

The two biggest Dutch employers’ organizations called on people on Monday to return to basic hygiene rules against coronaviruses, saying a new wave seemed imminent, while Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said that there was a “very real” risk for millions of people. get infected this fall.

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