World, Health, Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19: Europe sees hope in decline in new infections

Although death toll still climbing from COVID-19 in Europe, contagion curves fall in worst-hit countries

Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak   | 24.04.2020
COVID-19: Europe sees hope in decline in new infections

ANKARA

After becoming the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Europe has recently seen a downward trend in new infections, a new hope for the hard-hit continent.

Although reporting 464 new death on Thursday, the slowdown in the contagion curve continues in Italy, worst-affected country in Europe.

Meanwhile, Spain also sees some relaxation as the worst of the crisis appears to have passed in the country.

A makeshift morgue erected in Madrid's largest skating rink in late March was closed on Wednesday.

France also on Thursday reported declining numbers for the 13th day in a row.


Italy

Italy on Thursday reported 464 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, a bit higher than a day before, bringing the total number of fatalities to 25,549 as the contagion curve continued to fall.

According to the latest data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department, current infections fell for the fourth day in a row, by 851, to reach 106,848.

The number of recovered people climbed sharply to 57,576, while the number of intensive care patients continued to fall, easing pressure on Italy’s overwhelmed healthcare system.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said earlier this week that the government intends to start lifting the nationwide lockdown "gradually", respecting the social distancing measures to keep the contagion curve under control.

Spain

A temporary morgue erected in Madrid's largest skating rink in late March was closed on Wednesday as the worst of the crisis appears to have passed in Spain.

The country reported 367 new deaths on Friday, the fewest tally in a month, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 22,524, according to the Ministry of Health. Friday's death toll is around one-third of the country's peak back in early April.

Spain also reported more recoveries from COVID-19 than new confirmed cases on Friday.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 3,105 more recoveries and registered 2,796 new infections.

Over 92,000 people have recovered from the virus while the tally of confirmed cases stand at 219,764.

A general decrease in pressure in hospitals and funeral services shows that lockdown measures has been effective.

The government announced that starting this weekend, some restrictions will be lifted on children who have been confined to their homes since March 14.

Restrictions have previously been eased on non-essential workers in sectors like construction and manufacturing.


France

Death toll in France stands at 21,856 as of Thursday but the number of new infections continue declining for 13 days.

On Thursday, 29,219 hospitalizations were reported, a drop of 522 from Wednesday. The number of those in intensive care fell to 5,053, a drop of 165 patients. The number of cases of total infection stands at 120,804.

Some 42,088 people have returned home after recovering fully from the disease.

On Wednesday Jerome Salomon, the director general of health said the country have seen the peak and can go to normal gradually in the weeks ahead.

France will remain in lockdown until May 11, to last almost two months since its start on March 17.


United Kingdom

The UK is at the peak of the outbreak, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament on Wednesday.

Relaxing the ongoing social distancing measures would not be possible in the near future before a number of requirements were met, including a fall in the daily death rate and the prevention of a second wave, he added.

British health authorities reported 616 deaths from the virus on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 18,738.

The UK still is struggling with testing but, at a press briefing at Downing Street earlier in the day, the prime minister’s spokesman said that 50 mobile laboratories are being planned by the end of the month to boost testing.

The country also has started receiving applications via a government web page from key workers who would like to get tested for coronavirus on Friday.


Germany

The death toll from coronavirus in Germany reached 5,575 on Friday, while the total number of cases neared 154,000, according to data analysis firm Risklayer and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Almost 107,000 people have recovered from the virus so far, the Robert Koch Institute has reported.

Besides widespread coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and case isolation, Germany has also significantly raised the bed capacity of intensive care units in hospitals.

As of Wednesday, hospitals across the country had more than 12,600 free intensive care beds for coronavirus patients.

The German government announced last week that it managed to bring COVID-19 health emergency under control and partially relaxed strict lockdown measures, allowing small shops to reopen.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned against complacency and urged citizens to closely follow social distancing measures to prevent a new wave of infection.

The country has also approved first clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine on humans, officials announced on Wednesday.

Turkish-origin scientist Ugur Sahin’s biotechnology company BioNTech’s vaccine program was authorized for human clinical trials after a careful assessment of potential risks and benefits, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, German regulatory authority, has said in a press release.

Belgium

Belgium is planning its exit strategy as the authorities said Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium almost certainly peaked 10 days ago, on April 12.

The death toll from COVID-19 is 6,679 in Belgium, while the total number of infections stands at 44,293 on Friday.

The federal government led by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes is expected on Friday to announce a detailed exit strategy from virus restrictions.

Economic activities including commerce, construction, and transport industry can resume on May 4, according to recommendations of a national expert group leaked by daily newspaper Le Soir.

Schools may gradually reopen starting May 18, according to the proposal.

Worldwide, over 2.70 million cases of coronavirus have been recorded with more than 190,300 registered deaths. Recoveries have exceeded 737,800 so far, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the severity of the virus, most people experience mild symptoms and recover in due time.

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