Covid Europe reluctant to reintroduce health restrictions in the face

Covid: Europe reluctant to reintroduce health restrictions in the face of seventh wave Les Echos

Posted on Jul 4, 2022 at 6:40pm. Updated July 5, 2022 at 9:25 am.

France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, Spain… in most European countries, the curves of new Covid cases have been rising inexorably for a month. For the seventh time, a new wave of the pandemic is sweeping the continent while most health restrictions have been lifted. However, her recovery is not on the agenda.

Several factors explain the epidemic rebound: the relaxation of barrier gestures, the decline in our immunity several months after the last vaccination reminders and the Omicron tidal wave, and above all the progression of the new BA.4 subvariants and especially BA . 5, more contagious and more likely to be re-infected people who have been vaccinated and/or have already contracted the virus. However, they do not appear to cause more serious forms of the disease. This means that the number of deaths on the continent remains rather stable.

“As countries across Europe have lifted the social measures in place, the virus will circulate at high levels throughout the summer,” warned the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Europe director, Hans Kluge, last Thursday. The organization urges Europeans to continue to isolate themselves if they have respiratory symptoms, to check vaccination for up-to-dateness and to wear a mask in crowded places. “We need to keep tracking the virus because if we don’t, we will become increasingly blind to the routes of transmission and (its) development,” he reasoned.

Record incidence rate in France

France has the highest seven-day incidence rate in the world, just behind Taiwan and some micro-states. It surged in the second half of June, while hospital admissions slowed and deaths remained stable. The virus is likely to continue gaining ground by the end of July, Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the scientific council, warned a few days ago. However, the government has ruled out a return to restrictive restrictions.

The scenario is near our neighbors. In Germany, the incidence rate rose by about 60% within a week. Hospitalizations remain fairly stable at the moment, with the exception of people over the age of 80. A recent expert report concludes that it is currently impossible to assess the effectiveness of anti-Covid measures taken in the past, complicating the governing coalition’s task. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in favor of lowering the minimum age for the fourth dose from 70 to 60 years.

In the UK, too, despite the rise in the curves, reintroduction of restrictions is out of the question. One in 30 Brits tested positive at the end of June, up from one in 75 a month earlier, according to Britain’s Office for National Statistics. Hospital admissions of patients with Covid have doubled in a month. “It seems that this wave is not over yet. We therefore expect hospital admissions to continue to rise,” Jenny Harries, the President of the UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA), told the BBC on Sunday. The latter recommends wearing a mask in a closed place. A new reminder campaign for people over 65 is to start in autumn.

Reflux in Portugal

In Spain, the extent of the wave, which has been rising for a month, is difficult to clearly see because the government only communicates the number of cases among those over 60. The priority is not to detect easy contagions, but to monitor the number of severe cases and identify possible complications of the healthcare system. Given what happened a month earlier in neighboring Portugal, Health Minister Carolina Darias expects a peak in the coming days. However, the impact of the arrival of tourists for the summer season remains unknown.

Portugal is indeed a special case: the country was the first in Europe to experience the arrival of the BA.5 subvariant, first recorded in Africa. After peaking on June 7th, the number of contaminations has continued to decline. The new wave had surprised the country just as the mask requirement had just been lifted – except in transport, health centers and old people’s homes.

The speed of spread is also surprising when 87% of the population is vaccinated, but unlike previous waves, hospitals have not been pressured and deaths have mainly affected the most vulnerable. After examining the possibility of making my mask mandatory again, the Ministry of Health only recommended wearing it indoors or at mass outdoor events.