Monthly coronavirus infections spike in France as rest of Europe scrambles to stop second wave

New figures show infections in France rose by almost 50 per cent in August, which is the highest monthly tally since the start of the outbreak.

A Spanish Civil Guard vessel intercepted around 82 Algerian migrants near Almerias coast while trying to reach Europe by small boats.

Members of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and Spanish Civil Guard on a patrol vessel at Malaga port. Source: Sipa USA Jesus Merida / SOPA Images/Sipa

Coronavirus infections have surged in France to some of the highest levels since the pandemic began, as the rest of Europe scrambles to avoid being swamped by a second wave. 

New figures show infections in France rose by almost 50 per cent in August, which is the highest monthly tally since the start of the outbreak. 

The growing infection numbers prompted France's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, to admit it won't be possible for all of the country's schools to reopen safely from Tuesday.

"It's being decided by a day-by-day analysis based on the health situation of each territory," Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on France-Info radio. 

People wearing face mask on roller coaster at Disneyland Paris as the theme park reopens its doors to the public in Marne-la-Vallee, near Paris
Source: Raphael Lafargue/ABACAPRESS.COM

Masks will also be compulsory in workplaces, as of Tuesday.

President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex have said they will do everything to avoid a new national lockdown, but the French President hasn't ruled it out.

“Nothing, in theory, can be excluded", Emmanuel Macron told reporters last week.

France's cumulative total of COVID-19 infections has reached 281,025 versus 187,919 at the end of July.

In August, new cases increased on average by a record 3003 every day, a figure four times higher than July's average increase of 746 per day.

The surge of new cases has led authorities to re-impose some containment measures, such as making face masks mandatory in the streets, shops and public transportation of almost all the country's main cities.

The number of people in hospital for the disease has declined 14 per cent in August versus July as the virus is now mainly circulating among young people, who typically do not develop serious symptoms.

But that figure rose for the second day running on Monday, at 4582, after going down for almost two weeks. And the number of people in intensive care units was up for a fourth day in a row, at 409.

Those figures are still low compared to their respective peaks of 32,292 and 7,148 seen in April but experts are following the trends closely.

France reported 29 new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, meaning the average daily fatalities fell to a new low of 12 in August, versus 14 in July and of peak of 695 in April.

Spain

Spain has recorded the highest number of cases in western Europe and authorities are scrambling to break infection chains and reduce hospitalisations.

“Of course we are worried because we have to stabilize and bring down the infection chain,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told Catalonia’s regional TV channel 324 late on Monday, adding that the goal is to avoid pressuring hospitals.

Between Friday and Monday, more than 23,000 new COVID-19 cases were counted. That figure suggested a slight decline in the infection rate from a peak on 21 August.

The Spanish Health Minister said the situation is not comparable to the pandemic’s first peak in March and April, noting hospitals now have greater capacity.

Mr Illa said it would be unlikely Spain would need to reimpose a state of emergency or close schools again, but he said nothing can be ruled out.

United Kingdom

Nearly 200 passengers are facing two weeks' self-isolation after a  "debacle" on a flight from the Greek Island of Zante to Cardiff which has seen at least 16 people test positive for COVID19.

One traveller was scathing of the airline describing the Tui flight -TOM6215 - as full of "covidiots" and "inept crew who couldn't care less". Another said there "wasn't much" policing of rules.

Tui said safety was a priority and it was concerned by the claims.

"Our crew are trained to the highest standards," the airline said. "A full investigation is now under way as these concerns weren't reported during the flight or before today."

Flight over an Aegean Sea island.
Source: SBS Greek

The 193 passengers and crew who were on board the flight on 25 August are being asked to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Health officials said seven people from three different parties are believed to have been potentially infectious on board the aircraft.

British travellers returning from Greece and its islands are not required to self-isolate as those locations remain on the UK government's list of quarantine-exempt countries.

The UK has recorded more than 336,000 infections and more than 41,500 deaths.

Russia remains the worst affected European country with known case numbers near one million.


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Published 1 September 2020 at 8:02am, updated 1 September 2020 at 3:06pm
Source: AAP -SBS