Press Release: August 21, 2020
Fears are growing in Central Europe of a second spike in the Coronavirus Pandemic as France reports a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases to 4,771, that is up a thousand on Wednesday's figure and is the first time more than 4,000 daily cases have been seen since May.
The number of confirmed cases has been accelerating since mid-August. France has increased its testing capacity and carried out 664,000 tests over the past week, the health ministry said, but the rate of positive cases has also been increasing. It stood at 3.3% for the week between 11-17 August, up from 2.1% previously and more than double the 1.5% rate seen at the end of July.
Officials say the virus is now mostly circulating in major cities among the young, who typically do not have serious symptoms, and this is why the number of people being treated in hospital has not changed much.
Similarly Spain, Germany and Italy have also recorded their highest numbers of cases since early May with Spain reporting that most cases are among the young while German cases are said to be driven by a lack of social distancing and travellers returning from travel abroad.
Spain reported 3,349 new cases on Thursday, with the health ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simón told El País newspaper that no-one in the country should be in any doubt that "things are not going well". "Although the epidemic is not out of control at a national level, it is out of control in certain concrete ways," he added.
Even Germany, widely regarded as the benchmark model for containing the virus in Europe, due in part to an early, aggressive, test and trace policy. But in line with most countries across the European Union, an upsurge in infections has been observed in recent weeks. The latest increase takes the total number of infections in the country to 228,621 since the beginning of the pandemic. A further 10 people are also known to have died from COVID-19, bringing the country's death toll to 9,253.
In the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, more than a third of returnees who tested positive were coming from Kosovo and nearly 20% were coming from Turkey. However, those returning from Spain and Greece made up just 2.5% and 0.5% of positive cases in the state.
Italy has also reported a sharp rise in infections, with 845 new cases in its latest daily count. The number is not as high as some other European countries but it is a rate of infection that has not been seen there since late May.
Whatever the outcome of this "Second Spike" it looks like Coronavirus is here to stay and until a real vaccine is developed and then deployed to seven billion people worldwide.