Europe Faces Critical Moment as Coronavirus Cases Surge in Spain, France, Germany

Novel coronavirus cases in Europe have surpassed 3.6 million, according to the latest report by the World Health Organization.

Fears loom over a potential second wave of the outbreak in Europe, with new case numbers continuing to surge in Spain, France and Germany. The three European nations have all seen increases in new cases, according to the latest figures reported Wednesday by WHO. Spain reported more new cases per week over the past month, from July 13 to August 9, than the weekly case totals reported in France and Germany.

The percentages listed below indicate change in 14-day cumulative incidence as compared to 14 days ago.

Spain

  • Change in 14-day cumulative incidence: 80 percent
  • Total confirmed cases: 314,362

The outbreak in Spain has hit a "critical moment," Salvador Macip, an expert in health sciences at Catalonia's Open University, told Agence-France Presse.

"We are right at a point where things can get better or worse. This means we have to pull out all the stops to curb outbreaks before they become more serious," he told AFP.

Weekly totals of new infections in Spain have been steadily increasing from the week starting June 22, more than doubling in the week commencing July 13, before seeing a slight dip last week.

The latest rises follow months of weekly dips in new cases from March 30, flattening out through the week beginning June 15, according to WHO.

The country's seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose on a steeper incline from mid-July before it dropped in the past few days, according to Worldometer.

France

  • Change in 14-day cumulative incidence: 78 percent
  • Total confirmed cases: 189,972

French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned the outbreak in France has been heading "the wrong way" for the past two weeks.

"The epidemiological situation, which we are following very closely, is deteriorating: 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago. About 25 new clusters are identified every day compared to five three weeks ago," Castex said at a press conference in Montpellier.

Weekly case totals in France have been rising from the week starting June 22, according to WHO. The seven-day rolling average of daily new infections has been increasing on a sharper trend from around July 22, according to Worldometer.

Germany

  • Change in 14-day cumulative incidence: 61 percent
  • Total confirmed cases: 217,293

Germany has seen a "worrying" rise in new infections, the country's Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, told Germany's Deutschlandfunk, noting it had reached levels seen around three months ago.

"This obviously—if we don't watch out now—can lead to a certain dynamic," he said, noting nearly all regions in the country have been affected by outbreaks of varying sizes, Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

Attributing the recent rise to parties and large gatherings, Spahn noted: "When there's alcohol involved...it [the virus] can go [spread] very, very quickly."

The latest increase was also said to be a result of travelers returning from summer vacations abroad, Spahn added.

Weekly case totals in Germany have been rising slightly over the past four weeks from July 13 to August 9. But they had been declining from the week starting March 30 and mostly flattened out from June 1 to July 12, according to WHO.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases peaked on April 1 and declined since, before mostly increasing from around July 7, according to Worldometer.

Northern Spain, coronavirus, masks, August 2020
People wearing face masks walk down a shopping street in the Las Delicias neighbourhood of Zaragoza in northeastern Spain on August 10, 2020. Getty Images

More than 20.4 million people have been infected since the virus was first reported in Wuhan, China, including more than 5.1 million in the U.S. Over 12.6 million globally have reportedly recovered from infection, while over 744,200 have died, as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates a comparison of average new cases in the U.S. and the European Union.

COVID-19 cases EU vs. U.S.
The average number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and European Union. STATISTA

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates countries with the most COVID-19 cases.

Countries with most COVID-19 cases
The spread of COVID-19 cases across the globe. STATISTA