recentnews

News at the moment

NEWS

Is Europe having a second wave of coronavirus? The countries with a rise in Covid-19 cases



Boris Johnson has stoked fears of a “second wave” of coronavirus, pointing to rising infections in Spain and other European countries.

The UK reimposed quarantine restrictions on Spain on Sunday, forcing thousands of holidaymakers to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

During a visit to Nottingham on Tuesday Mr Johnson said: “Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He added: “What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again.”

But is the Prime Minister actually right to speak about a second wave?

Is there a second wave of coronavirus in Europe?

People have feared a second wave of Covid-19 almost since the start of the pandemic. This is because that is what happened with Spanish Flu, when a post-First World War second wave devastated the world even more than the first.

However, that is not exactly what is happening here. Margaret Harris of the World Health Organisation says any spike in infections is part of “one big wave”.

Boris Johnson has warned of a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus (Photo: Reuters)

The virus did not go away and come back. Rather restrictions allowed it to be kept in check.

Increases in cases are down to lockdown rules being lifted, leading to more people socialising, as well as the reintroduction of international travel.

Countries which have advanced test and trace systems, such as South Korea, have been more successful in suppressing the virus and stopping it from spreading again post-lockdown.

This has been more difficult for countries like the UK and Spain, whose systems lag far behind.

Which countries’ infections are increasing?

Spain’s rise in infections has been the most publicised. There were just over 2,000 new cases in Spain on Wednesday 29 July, while the country has seen an average of 50.7 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data.

This is a fairly steep rise from late June, when daily infections were in the 300s, but still a long way off peak figures. Spain saw more than 9,000 infections on 26 March.

Infections are rising in Spain, but they are still far below peak levels (Photo: Getty)

The majority of new infections are confined to certain regions, with Catalonia and Aragon in the north east hardest hit. This is similar to how Leicester saw a big increase in the UK.

France and Germany have both seen small rises, fairly similar to the UK. There have been an average of 17.7 new infections per 100,000 people in France over the last two weeks and 8.0 in Germany, compared with 12.4 in the UK.

Luxembourg is suffering the biggest spike in Europe. There have been an average of 240.6 new cases per 100,000 people in the tiny nation in the last 14 days. Romania’s rate is also high at 72.2, with Bulgaria on 46.8 and Sweden and Belgium both in the low 30s.

What does this mean for UK travel rules?

The UK Government has already shown it will not hesitate to reintroduce quarantine rules for countries where infections are spiking.

This means the likes of Luxembourg, Croatia and France will be on the watchlist, should their situations worsen further. All three are currently exempt from Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all but essential international travel.

If the rules change, anyone returning from a country taken off the list will have to self-isolate for 14 days.