Europe Fears Coronavirus Second Wave Amid Spikes in Spain, France, Germany

Novel coronavirus cases in Europe are approaching nearly 1.7 million, with 1,675,022 cases reported to date in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and the U.K., according to the latest report Monday from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Fears over a second wave of the outbreak have been raised in Europe following recent spikes seen in Spain, France and Germany. Each nation has reported around a 30 to 90 percent increase in new infections over roughly the past couple of weeks.

Spain

In the week from July 18 to 24, the country reported a total of 12,039 new infections, a nearly 90 percent (over 89.6 percent) increase from the 6,347 total new cases reported a week earlier from July 11 to 17, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

New cases in Spain began to rise on a sharper incline from around early July, about a couple of weeks after it reopened its borders in late June and ended its state of emergency.

Most of the recent new cases were reported to be in the northeast region of Catalonia, which is home to Barcelona, the capital of the region.

All nightclubs in the Catalonia region were ordered to close for 15 days, while a midnight curfew was imposed on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around the city of Lleida that have become virus hotspots, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Clubs in the southeast region of Murcia were also ordered to be shut unless venues have an outdoor terrace space for customers, The Local reported.

Mask rules were imposed in several regions requiring face coverings to be worn in public, while a week earlier, residents in several areas of the Catalan region, including Barcelona, were urged to remain at home, Reuters reported.

On Saturday, Spain was removed from a "safe travel" list in the U.K., which issued a 14-day quarantine mandate for all those traveling from Spain, a popular vacation destination among Britons.

However, Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters Sunday: "Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists."

She noted the Spanish government will try to convince U.K. officials to exclude the Balearic and Canary islands of Spain from the quarantine mandate, claiming the prevalence of cases in those popular island destinations was much lower than the cases seen in the U.K., Reuters reported.

France

France reported 5,854 total new cases in roughly the past week, from July 18 to 24, a nearly 50 percent increase (over 49.2 percent) from the total new cases reported a week earlier, from July 11 to 17, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

The country's R (reproductive) number, which represents the average number of people to whom an infected individual will pass the virus, has climbed to 1.3, French health authorities confirmed, AP reported.

"We have thus erased much of the progress that we'd achieved in the first weeks of lockdown-easing," with locals reported to be making less of an effort to self-isolate if they are infected, health officials noted.

French authorities have called for a "collective discipline," across the country, asking residents to work from home and to get tested if they have any suspicions of infection, AP reported.

On Monday, the French government advised companies to "build a preventive stock of protective masks for 10 weeks to be able to deal with a potential resurgence of the pandemic," Agence-France Presse (AFP)/AP reported.

Employers were urged to "collectively ensure [they] have the necessary equipment to protect employees" in order to be able to perform their work duties, AFP/AP reported.

The number of active cases (those currently infected who are being treated in hospital or recovering at home) in France has been mostly rising from around early June, reaching 69,521 on July 26, forming around a third of the country's total confirmed cases, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

Germany

The daily case count in Germany has been mostly increasing from around early July. From July 18 to 24, the country reported 3,615 total new cases, a spike of over 30.7 percent from the 2,757 total new cases recorded in the week prior from July, 11 to 17, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

On Saturday, Michael Kretschmer, premier of the eastern German state of Saxony, claimed "the second coronavirus wave is already here," Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

"It is already taking place every day. We have new clusters of infection every day which could become very high numbers," Kretschmer told the Rheinische Post newspaper, DW reported.

The latest seven-day average of Germany's R number was reported to be at 1.16, up from 1.05, DW reported Saturday.

On Friday, Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported the country saw a spike from around 500 to over 800 daily new cases at one point last week.

"This development is very worrying and will continue to be monitored very closely by the RKI," a spokeswoman told Germany's Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (DPA) news agency Friday, DW reported.

"A further exacerbation of the situation must be avoided," the spokesperson added.

Over 60 percent of the country's recent new cases were reported to be in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, RKI noted.

Clusters of new infections have also been linked to larger gatherings, leisure activities, workplaces, visits to community and health facilities as well as travelers returning from abroad, DW reported.

On Friday, a German cruise ship, Mein Schiff 2, sailed from the port of Hamburg toward Norway on Friday night, marking the first voyage since the cruise industry was shut down amid the ongoing pandemic, AP reported.

Passengers were expected to remain at sea with no land stops before returning to Germany on Monday. The ship hosted 1,200 passengers on board, down from its normal capacity of 2,900, AP reported.

Last week, Norway also reintroduced a 10-day quarantine mandate for those arriving from Spain, while people in France have been advised not to travel to Catalonia, Reuters reported.

Galicia, Spain, beach, coronavirus, July 2020
Wooden poles separate and divide into squares the sandbank on July 11, 2020 in Sanxenxo, Galicia, Spain. Getty Images

When asked whether quarantine requirements could also be issued for travelers returning from France and Germany, the U.K. Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Helen Whately, told the U.K.'s Sky News: "We have to keep the situation under review and I think that is what the public would expect us to do.

"If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine...we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the U.K.," she said.

Over 16.2 million people across the globe have been infected since the virus was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 4.2 million in the U.S. More than 9.4 million globally have reportedly recovered from infection, while over 648,900 have died, as of Monday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

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