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European nations experience second wave of coronavirus cases

By
Allen Cone
National Health Service staff work at a self administered OVID19 testing site in London, England. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
National Health Service staff work at a self administered OVID19 testing site in London, England. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Europe, despite stabilizing deaths from COVID-19, is experiencing a second wave of cases with nations ordering new restrictions to control the virus after the summer vacation season.

The continent has 216,186 of the total 964,762 deaths in the world, with 293 added Sunday, according to Worldometers.info. Meanwhile, there were 38,377 new cases, one day after reporting 44,502 as the infection total passed 31 million worldwide.

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The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported record highs of more than 45,000 cases on a 14-day notification rate.

Four European nations are in the top 10 worldwide for most deaths but they have been experiencing a drop in fatalities as of late.

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Britain reported 18 additional deaths Sunday for 41,777 in fifth place with the record daily high of 1,172 and only 1,287 since July 1. But there were 3,899 cases Sunday after back-to-back days of 4,322 then 4,422, the highest since 5,086 on May 7.

No. 6 Italy was at one time the world's epicenter of the pandemic and reached 919 deaths in one day but has reported only 765 of its 35,707 deaths since July 1, including 15 on Sunday. Italy reported 1,587 cases, two days after its highest tally since May with 1,907 infections.

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No. 8 France announced 11 new deaths but added 10,569 cases, one day after successive records of 13,215 on Friday and 13,498 on Saturday. Of France's 31,285 deaths, 1,449 were since July 1.

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No. 9 Spain has been reporting a spike in deaths as well as cases. The nation reported no data Sunday but Friday's figures were 90 more deaths for a total of 30,495, which is 2,132 since July 1 and 4,697 cases. Spain has surpassed a daily total of 10,000 cases seven times -- the record 10,854 on March 20 and six days since Aug. 28.

The rise in infections has been linked to vacations, including abroad.

"We are at this threshold today because of the movement around the holiday period and weddings, which are integral parts of our traditions," said Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca, whose country recorded 63 deaths in 24 hours, its highest one-day death count, for a total of 7,445.

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On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters they are "now seeing a second wave coming in."

"Obviously we're looking very carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days," Johnson said. "There's no question, as I've said for weeks now, that we could [and] are now seeing a second wave coming in. We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe. It has been absolutely inevitable we will see it in this country.

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"I don't want to go into second national lockdown. The only way we can do that is if people follow the guidance."

On Sunday, Britain announced that anyone who tests positive for coronavirus or traced as a close contact will be required by law to self-isolate from Sept. 28. Otherwise, fines range from $1,300 to $13,000 for repeat offenders. Low-income people will be supported by a $650 payment, according to a government statement.

Angela Rayner, the Labor Party's deputy leader, criticized Johnson for "failure and incompetence" on coronavirus. On Sunday, she said there has never been a prime minister "more out of his depth and ill-equipped to the task" than Johnson.

Earlier, Labor's leader Sir Keir Starmer faulted Johnson for a chaotic testing system.

The National Health Service's Test and Trace said demand is up to four times higher than the system can cope with and Lighthouse Labs is already operating at 100% capacity.

Senior scientists and medics want more small research labs to ease the pressures.

"With schools back and universities starting up, the risk of an even faster increase in positive tests is present," David Hunter, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Oxford University, told The Guardian. "This inevitably means that restricting indoor gatherings is even more important, and consideration will have to be given to whether this is the right time to be encouraging people to return to offices and factories, particularly in locations where people rely on trains and buses to get to work."

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On Saturday, demonstrators against restrictions at a "Resist and Act for Freedom" rally in London held banners, including "This is now Tyranny," and chanted "Freedom!"

Spain's lockdown measures drew protests in Madrid on Sunday. On Friday, Díaz Ayuso, the president of the Madrid region, announced that 850,000 people would be placed in partial lockdown from Monday.

Many of those affected are poor.

"Instead of protecting and looking after the most vulnerable people in our city and seeing to it that they didn't suffer the highest infection rates, they have instead opted for stigmatization, exclusion and territorial discrimination," neighborhood organizers said in a joint message.

In late August, authorities in Italy said that approximately 50% of new infections were contracted during summer vacations, primarily among young adults who have not been cautious with social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines.

Russia ranks fourth worldwide with 1,103,399 cases, including an additional 6,148 Sunday, as well as 79 deaths.

The Western Hemisphere occupies three of the top four spots for most deaths.

The United States for months has been No. 1 as it neared 200,000 deaths, as well as nearly 7 million cases, also highest in the world.

Brazil is second with 136,895, including 303 Saturday. And the nation is third in the world for cases with 4,544,629 million.

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Mexico is fourth with 73,258 deaths, including 455 Saturday.

In South America, there are a total of 237,965 deaths, including 31,369 in No. 7 Peru, 24,208 in No. 11 Columbia, 13,053 in No. 14 Argentina and 12,286 in No. 15 Chile.

In North America, all but about 12,000 of the 298,530 deaths are in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Canada is far below the United States and Mexico with 9,217 deaths, including an additional six, as well as 875 cases on Sunday. Its cases usually are under 1,000 but it spiked to 1,120 Friday and 1,044 Saturday.

Borders between the three nations will remain closed through Oct. 21.

"We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19," Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf posted Friday on Twitter. "Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through October 21."

In Asia, there have been 177,173 deaths and 9,468,081 cases, with the latter the most for a continent in the world.

India is second in the world for most cases with 5,400,619, including 92,605 more Sunday. India set the single-day world record of 97,894 three days ago.

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In addition, there were 1,133 deaths for a total of 86,752 in third place.

China, the original epicenter of the world, hasn't reported a death since April 26, dropping to 30th in the world, and added 10 cases Sunday.

Elsewhere in the Far East, South Korea reported only 82 cases and five deaths while Japan announced 13 deaths and 579 cases. Recently both nations had reported a spike in cases, with Japan hitting 1,998 on Aug. 3 and Korea 441 on Aug. 27.

On Sunday, South Korea extended social distancing measures for a week, limiting indoor social gatherings to fewer than 50 people and outdoor to fewer than 100 ahead of a major national holiday, Chuseok.

Iran is 10th in the world for deaths, including 183 Sunday, the highest since 188 on Aug. 12.

In Oceania, the death toll stands at 884 with Australia reporting five fatalities Saturday for a total of 849 as well as 17 new cases and New Zealand remaining at 25 and adding four cases.

All five of those fatalities were in Victoria with 14 cases.

"This is a good day," said Premier Daniel Andrews, adding he was confident about easing restrictions later in the week.

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Victoria has been under a strict lockdown, including a nightly curfew.

Australia's death toll increased by 81 in one week.

Since May 28, New Zealand has reported three deaths -- one each on Sept. 4, 5 and Wednesday.

In Africa, there have been 34,008 deaths, led by South Africa with 15,953, including 13 followed by Egypt with 5,770 with 20 more on Sunday. South Africa has the eighth-most cases in the world at 661,211.

South Africa will go into a lower level 1 lockdown after midnight Monday. Venues will be capped at 50% capacity, including 50 people indoors and 500 outdoors. Gyms and recreational facilities have had limits increased to 50% of total capacity.

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