Belgium facing coronavirus second wave ‘wake up call’ as Europe tackles new COVID-19 outbreaks

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·5 min read
A woman wearing a face mask walks by a board bearing sanitary measures, on July 10 2020 in Brussels, amid the crisis linked with the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. - Wearing a face mask will become mandatory on July 10, 2020 in Belgian shops, cinemas, entertainment venues and other indoor spaces, the government announced. (Photo by Aris Oikonomou / AFP) (Photo by ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP via Getty Images)
A virologist has warned of a second wave beginning in Belgium. (Photo by ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Belgium is facing a second wave of the coronavirus, an expert has said, as Spain saw its highest daily rise in cases for two months.

Across Europe, which was once a major hotspot in the global pandemic, states are focusing on preventing a major resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Germany is looking into tighter local lockdowns to try and prevent a second wave while the mayor of Paris warned people in her city were becoming less vigilant.

Here is the latest from those four countries’ efforts to hold off a major outbreak.

Belgium

A steady daily increase in coronavirus infections indicates a second wave is starting, a virologist has said.

Marc Van Ranst told Belgian station VRT radio that the numbers were “a wake-up call”.

The Brussels Times reported his comments came as the average number of new daily cases between 7 and 13 July was recorded as 114.7.

That is an increase from an average of 86.9 new infections a day the week before, the same title reported. The Brussels Times also reports the R number has risen to one – it needs to be below one for an outbreak to go into decline.

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“It has been months since we had so many new infections,” Van Ranst was reported as saying.

“The average will certainly continue to rise in the coming days. I think we should be concerned about this. This is an absolute wake-up call.”

He added: “This is not one hotspot, there are several of them. With these numbers you have to say that you are at the beginning of a second wave.”

He stressed people should use face masks and maintain social distancing.

Belgium has recorded 63,000 cases since the outbreak started there and suffered 9,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Spain

The largest daily rise in COVID-19 cases for two months was recorded on Thursday, as Spain continues to welcome tourists.

A total of 580 new infections were recorded yesterday, up 390 from Wednesday, with Catalonia among the worst hit regions.

People walk along the Ramblas of Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, July 16, 2020. With Europe's summer vacation season kicking into high gear for millions weary of months of lockdown, scenes of drunken British and German tourists on Spain's Mallorca island ignoring social distancing rules and reports of American visitors flouting quarantine measures in Ireland are raising fears of a resurgence of infections in countries that have battled for months to flatten the COVID-19 curve. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Action may be needed in Barcelona a parts of Catalonia were placed into additional restrictions. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Parts of the region have been put back into restrictions and health officials said some action would need to be taken in Barcelona.

There have been more than 170 local outbreaks since Spain lifted its strict lockdown on 12 June, and more than one in 20 people have had the virus, according to a national survey.

The country has reported 258,000 cases so far and 28,000 deaths.

Germany

An agreement signed between Germany’s federal and regional governments provides for tougher local lockdown measures.

The new agreement would implement a travel ban for people entering or wanting to leave an affected area and allows for more specific lockdowns as needed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, speaks with Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, July 17, 2020. Leaders from 27 European Union nations meet face-to-face on Friday for the first time since February, despite the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, to assess an overall budget and recovery package spread over seven years estimated at some 1.75 trillion to 1.85 trillion euros. (Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP)
Merkel's government agreed a lockdown deal with its states. (Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP)

Anyone who wants to get out of an affected place to go to another German state will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test which is less than two days old.

A slaughterhouse which saw an outbreak where more than 1,500 people got infected had to install air filters in order to reopen.

Toennies shut down the plant in western Germany in June following the outbreak and the company believes the filters will become a nationwide requirement.

Increased focus has been applied to industries where conditions could help trigger an outbreak.

Low temperatures, which can allow viruses to survive in the air for longer, and crowded conditions in places like meatpacking plants have been examined as potential hazards for triggering a new series of infections.

Germany has recorded 201,000 cases and 9,000 deaths.

France

A total of 372 local coronavirus clusters have been identified since May, French health officials have said, and there are worries about new outbreaks coming from private gatherings in the summer.

The nation’s public health agency has warned those kinds of get-togethers could trigger a second wave.

COVID-19 admissions have increased in Parisian hospitals and a third of the 372 clusters are still reportedly active in places like the Ile de France, which includes the capital, and Nouvelle Aquitaine in the South West.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, warned people in her city were being less vigilant about the coronavirus.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 15: French soldiers patrol next to the Eiffel Tower on the day of the reopening of the top floor on July 15, 2020 in Paris, France. After nearly three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the Eiffel Tower today opens its 3rd floor to the public. (Photo by Chesnot / Getty Images)
The mayor of Paris expressed concern about hospital admissions and whether Parisians were still wary of the coronavirus. (Photo by Chesnot / Getty Images)

She said: “We need to be very, very cautious. Hospitals and doctors have recorded an increase in the number of COVID-19 related cases even if is not yet alarming.”

In the North West of France, the R number for Brittany – a measure of if the outbreak is rising or shrinking if the number is above or below one, respectively – rose from 0.92 to 2.62 between 10 July and 14 July.

Reuters reported that infectious disease expert Eric Caumes told French station BFM TV: “It’s a worrying number because it means the epidemic is taking off again.”

France has reported 211,000 cases and 30,000 deaths.

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