Coronavirus Second Wave: US could see surge in cases after Thanksgiving, say experts as Europe faces fresh spike
This worrying development comes amid a predicted increase with the onset of cooler weather and more frequent indoor activity and about 6 weeks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday
Americans are now grappling with a surge in Covid-19 cases in over 30 states, including a large swath of the Midwest and Northeast, and health experts are warning that the US should watch out as a second wave may have started in Europe. Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year.
According to a report, Italy recorded 7,332 new positive coronavirus tests on Wednesday, October 14, breaking its previous record for most infections added in a single day, even as the UK reported nearly 20,000 new cases. “The UK has recorded 19,724 new coronavirus cases. That is the highest daily figure on record (excluding a day when the total was artificially inflated by previous tests) and a rise of almost 2,500 (or 14%) on the total for yesterday (17,234),” says The Guardian.
Another analysis by The Wall Street Journal suggests that the 27 countries of the European Union and the UK have now surpassed the US in terms of new cases per million for the first time since the spring. “The 27 countries of the European Union and the UK recorded 78,000 cases a day on average over a seven-day period ending on October 12, or 152 cases for every million residents. The US recorded 49,000 a day on average over the same period, about 150 for every million residents,” it says. The rise in cases has started to reflect in hospital admissions. “The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control or ECDC said in its latest surveillance report that in 19 European countries, including France, Spain, and the UK, the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in early October was around a quarter or more of the level it reached during the pandemic’s April peak,” suggests the article.
Accordingly, European nations have reimposed curfews and lockdowns to stop transmission. France has imposed a curfew from 9 pm to 6 am in the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas across the country, beginning on Saturday, October 17. “The virus is everywhere in France,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the French public, as he declared a state of emergency. He added, “The message I want to send this evening is that I need each of you, we need each other, to find solutions.”
Other European nations are closing schools and canceling surgeries amid the Covid-19 resurgence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she and leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed on tougher restrictions. “We are already in a phase of exponential growth, the daily numbers show that,” she said, according to Reuters.
In Spain, authorities in Catalonia ordered bars and restaurants to close for 15 days and limited the number of people allowed in shops. In the Navarre region in northern Spain, new restrictions were implemented that included closing playgrounds and outdoor sports areas, as well as forcing restaurants to close at 10 pm. In the Netherlands, where the number of cases almost doubled this week to 44,000, the government announced a partial lockdown. After 10 pm on Wednesday, all bars and restaurants will be closed for at least four weeks. Gatherings will be limited to 30 people, and most sports events will be stopped.
In the Czech Republic, schools have moved to distance learning, even as hospitals are cutting non-urgent medical procedures to free up beds. Bars and clubs will also be shut during the three-week partial lockdown. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin described Northern Ireland’s rise in cases as “hugely worrying,” and the government increased restrictions in three counties on the border as well as almost all visits to homes across the country.
Meanwhile, the numbers are also rising in some parts of the US. Daily new coronavirus cases, as a seven-day average, topped 50,000 for the first time in nearly two months on Tuesday, reveals a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
In a conference call with governors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr Robert Redfield, said that small household gatherings are driving the surge in new cases. The worrying development comes amid a predicted increase with the onset of cooler weather and more frequent indoor activity and about 6 weeks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. “What we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually the acquisition of infection through small household gatherings. Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting,” he said, reports CNN.
According to Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, the US went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. “Now we're back up to (about) 50,000 new cases a day. And it's going to continue to rise. This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it’s happening. And it's happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard -- Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it's going to be nationally soon enough,” he said.
At least 10 states have reported record-high Covid-19 hospitalizations, and five of them -- Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin -- reported records on Monday. “Hospitals could again become overwhelmed. And then we’re not just talking about patients with coronavirus who might be in trouble. It’s also about other patients who might be coming in for heart attacks and strokes and car accidents who may find a situation that's really untenable,” cautioned emergency medicine physician Dr Leana Wen.