Portugal: records of infected and dead
The Government put Christmas and New Year in the hands of the population, and on December 28th the average number of new daily cases (2922) was not so low since October 26th. However, the infected and the dead have escalated rapidly since then, and the new general confinement takes effect at a time when the average of new daily cases is breaking absolute records: there are 8463 new ones infected per day in the average of the last seven days, in addition to 123 daily deaths, a number that has also never been so high.
Germany: “one friend rule” rule
Germany went into severe confinement on December 16: at that time, the average of the previous seven days was 27,000 new cases and 536 deaths per day. Current measures include the closure of schools, non-essential commerce, restaurants and cultural spaces in all 16 states of the country. Initially they would run until January 10, but have since been extended until the end of the month: infections and deaths peaked on 24 December and started to fall, but the curve rose again from 6 January, to the current weekly average of 20,500 new cases and 896 deaths per day.
“Given that infection rates are still very high, it will be necessary to extend the restrictions” and stay at home whenever possible, said Health Minister Jens Spahn, to justify tightening the measures, which now include rules such as ” one friend rule ”- that is, only gatherings are allowed between people in the same household and one more person outside that circle.
Spain: resistance to general confinement
“We have tough weeks ahead of us and we cannot let our guard down,” Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa summed up in a press conference on January 5, after weeks of sustained increase in numbers that was accelerated by the relaxation of measures during the festive period. On Christmas Day, the weekly average was 8377 new daily cases and 138 deaths, but currently those numbers have soared to 24,000 and 179 respectively.
This Wednesday restrictions at the local level were increased in regions such as Galicia and Navarra, but Spain continues to resist the implementation of a new general containment. “We are clearly seeing a new increase in cases (…) in what we can call a third wave of the pandemic,” said Maria Jose Sierra, second in charge of the Ministry of Health’s emergency unit.
France: Christmas and the English variant
The French government lifted the confinement on December 15 due to the festive season. At that time, the weekly average was 11,689 new cases and 389 daily deaths. Despite maintaining several restrictions, the possibility of reopening restaurants, bars, gyms and cultural facilities at the beginning of the year was discarded. Schools reopened on January 4, and there are currently more cases (17,832 new cases per day, on average), but fewer deaths (352 daily, on average).
“This week is decisive, given that France is in a very unstable epidemiological situation and could fall in exponential [de casos]”, Said earlier this week, epidemiologist Antoine Flahault to the newspaper “Le Parisien”. Christmas and the English variant are the two main reasons for this instability: this Thursday, the government will receive new data on these two topics and announce to the country the next measures to contain the virus.
Italy: closed at home for Christmas and New Year
The country has just extended the state of emergency until the end of April, and further measures to contain the epidemic will be announced this Friday – despite the fact that Italians were banned from leaving home on December 24 and 25, and January 1, and circulation between regions was suspended between December 21 and January 6.
On December 21, in fact, the average number of infections and deaths was falling: 15,764 and 601 per day, respectively. The cases have gone up again in the meantime (the average for the last seven days this Wednesday was 16,671 per day), while deaths have dropped (493). Both records are still far from the country’s pandemic peak in April, but health officials remain concerned: last week the occupancy rate for intensive care increased by more than 30%, Rt went up, and more outbreaks were detected of unknown origin.
Sweden: health system under pressure
Sweden’s pandemic approach has been based on recommendation, not imposition. On December 23, the country reached the highest average of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic (6773), since after the 20th of the same month the average number of deaths rose so much (90 daily) that it is necessary to go back to April to find a similar number.
Thus, the tactic has been changed: the Government has been criticized for its “stubbornness” in the implementation of strict measures, and since Sunday it has been empowered to fine and close deals that do not comply with the necessary sanitary measures, for example. The most recent data indicate some relief: 4,183 cases and 20 deaths per day, on average over the past week, but the health system remains under great pressure.
United Kingdom: confinement until mid-February
“It is obvious that we need to do more to be able to control this new variant,” Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, said on January 5, in a speech announcing a new general confinement in the UK that includes the closure of all schools (less for the children of essential professionals).
On that day, the new cases continued to break records: they peaked on the 9th, with an average of 59,660 daily cases in the previous seven days, to which were added 900 deaths also daily. Since then, infections have declined slightly, but deaths continue to increase: this Wednesday, 1564 people lost their lives, an absolute record in the pandemic. The lockdown is expected to last at least until mid-February.
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