Europe is once again the center of attention in terms of the covid-19 pandemic, due to the increase in positive cases that has been seen in recent weeks and which has positioned, for now, Spain and France as the most affected.
Not in vain, The World Health Organization (WHO) has been emphatic in forecasting second waves for this continent, for which he has asked governments for regional coherence and “coordinated actions against the very serious situation in the face of new peaks of the pandemic in these countries.”
In the last two weeks, the agency has warned that more than half of the European states registered an increase of more than 10 per cent in their cases and in seven of them they even doubled. These are added to the nearly two million cases in the world coronavirus statistics, in a condition that was not expected to be increased by regions that in the imaginary had already passed the worst of this emergency.
Although many epidemiologists are reluctant to call this increase in cases a second wave, arguing that it is too early to draw conclusions, it must also be made clear that in some European places the increase in numbers is also attributed to more tests and detection of asymptomatic cases that were unknown in the first phase of the pandemic.
However, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) indicates that there are countries that are facing “new serious outbreaks”, such as Belgium, which in recent days has had a drastic increase in people entering intensive care with severe forms of covid-19. This, according to the same agency, changes the concept of better preparation and tracking, because they seem to be affecting people susceptible to serious illness who had not done so in the early stages.
In France, for example, according to the same agency, radical measures broke the chain of transmission by limiting the circulation of the virus. However, with the arrival of summer and the departure of people to the streets, the number of positive cases and deaths increased again since mid-July.
In fact, this indicator multiplied by two in the last week with the aggravating factor that the cases among elderly people also increased, as did the so-called conglomerates, which motivated the health authorities to alert on Friday that “for the first time since the confinement was ended (at the end of May) there has been an increase in deaths from covid-19 ”.
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And although in that country some consider that it makes no sense to compare the current numbers with those of March, because at that time only patients with severe symptoms were examined, the truth is that the number of cases that have been registered lately in a real way is higher than the number of tests carried out, which constitutes an underestimation of the pandemic, according to the WHO.
In the UK, on the other hand, many areas remain under restrictions to contain the coronavirus. In fact, due to the increase in cases and outbreaks, the flexibility of the measures has been postponed and, for the first time, the Government forced the use of masks even in closed spaces.
A few weeks ago, Chris Whitty, medical director of the English Government, warned that the country reached the limits of what can be done in the face of the coronavirus and that it is not clear that the actual number of reproduction is below that necessary to consider that the pandemic is under control.
Spain, for its part, has seen since July how the epidemic spreads again at unexpected speed until today it becomes the country of the European Union with the most cases in proportion to its population.
It is worth clarifying that Although the cases increased, the mortality rates are low, therefore, some epidemiologists say that it is not possible to compare the situation of March and April with that of now, since the test criteria that allow detecting asymptomatic patients who develop benign forms of covid-19 were expanded.
Too reassures the fact that the coronavirus is relatively stable and is not accumulating mutations that affect its virulence, as happened in the second waves of other epidemics.
Of course, being a virus against which there is uncertainty about the immunity it leaves, it is difficult until now to think about the 60 percent necessary to obtain herd defenses, which could favor the appearance of second waves. And in that sense, it cannot be ruled out that the outbreaks that are appearing in Europe could get out of control and cause bigger problems, hence WHO insists on the need to strengthen control measures collectively among all countries.
Other ills became more acute
– The Lancet Covid-19 Commission released a first report in which it highlights that the pandemic exacerbated problems on the planet, which it is urgent to address. He mentions that health inequities increased due to the emergency, and projects an excess of deaths from causes other than covid-19. The report estimates that in the next five years there will be 1.2 million more deaths from tuberculosis, and that this year there will be 673,000 more deaths than expected from HIV in Africa and 1.2 million more deaths of children under 5 years of age.
– It also indicates that 90 percent of the countries entered an economic recession and that in the second quarter of the year the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs were lost.
– The report proposes solutions aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement, with a gender and multilateral approach, which begin by strengthening public health.