Three scenarios for containing a pandemic. Which one did Europe choose and why?

The third wave of COVID-19 broke out and the situation is getting worse

The World Health Organization noted at

press briefing in mid-October that numbercases in Europe have grown by a million in a very short space of time. It all happened in 10 days and as a result, the total number of registered cases reached 7 million.

While WHO is gearing up for more cases and more pressure on hospitals than in April, the report also found some good news.

“Although we register two to three times morethe number of cases per day compared to the April peak, but there are still five times fewer deaths, ”said Dr. Hans-Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. By the way, the director associates the higher infection rate with new testing opportunities, especially among young people. High transmission rates are also observed among young people. This explains the lower mortality rate.

“The rise in the epidemiological curve is much higher, but the slope is lower and less fatal,” Kluge emphasizes. However, the situation may deteriorate sharply. "

Many more people could die in the upcoming COVID-19 season than in April, Kluge said.

Rise of COVID-19 Cases in Europe Leads to Return of Isolation

Amid this news and rising infections, France and Germany, some of the largest countries in Europe, are again imposing a number of restrictions.

  • France: second national isolation

On Friday, October 30, France introduced a newnational quarantine. People are only allowed to leave home to go to work (if they cannot work from home), buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or exercise for one hour a day.

Anyone outside should have athemselves a written statement justifying their trip, as happened during the first lockdown in March. All non-essential shops, restaurants and bars are closed, but schools and kindergartens will remain open.

Public gatherings prohibited / Rules will be in effect until at least December 1

  • Germany: isolation in November

Starting November 2, new restrictions across the country will include the closure of cinemas, theaters, gyms, pools and saunas, and restaurants and bars, with the exception of take-out food.

Social contacts will be limited to twohouseholds with a maximum of 10 people. Major events are canceled and there will be no crowds for sporting events. Overnight stay in holiday hotels will be prohibited, and all minor trips are strongly discouraged. However, schools and creches will remain open and visits to nursing homes will be allowed.

Shops and hairdressers will be able to stayopen, observing strict hygiene rules and limiting the number of clients. Church services and protests will also be allowed. The measures will be in effect until November 30.

  • Italy: radical new measures

New restrictions that began inMonday 26 October will be valid in Italy for a month. All bars and restaurants across the country are required to close by 6:00 pm, although they may provide takeaway later. Gyms, swimming pools, theaters and cinemas are to be closed, but museums can remain open. Wedding, baptism and funeral fees are prohibited.

Schools and workplaces remain open, butmany high schools are forced to switch to distance learning. People are strongly advised not to leave their immediate area except for work, school or health reasons. Masks already need to be worn all over Italy, indoors and outdoors, with the exception of private homes.

  • Spain: new state of emergency

On Sunday, October 25, Spain entered thethe enactment of a nationwide curfew after the government declared a new state of emergency. People in all regions with the exception of the Canary Islands will have to stay at home between 23:00 and 06:00.

The only travel allowed is workbuying medicines or caring for the elderly or young. Public and private gatherings are limited to six people who do not live together. The measures were originally put in place for 15 days, but Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he would ask parliament to extend them by six months.

Spain's regional leaders may change timesthe beginning and end of the curfew on their territory for an hour. They can also close regional borders to travel. The nationwide measures followed a series of regional measures introduced earlier in October.

Face masks must be worn by persons over sixyears on all types of public transport and in closed public places throughout the country. Most regions of Spain have made masks mandatory and outdoors.

  • Belgium: curfew and closing of shops and restaurants

Current new measures include a curfewhour from 22:00 and closing of all shops by 20:00. People are again asked to wear masks at all times outside the home and at work (if social distancing is possible).

Gyms, swimming pools and other cultural andentertainment facilities are closed. A week earlier, all bars and restaurants across the country were ordered to close for four weeks and a ban was imposed on the sale of alcohol after 20:00. Restaurants are open for takeaway food until 22:00. The government has promised a support package for all affected businesses.

Households can invite up to four guests,always the same, changing every two weeks, and whenever possible be sure to work from home. Christmas markets, winter villages, second hand markets and mass events such as festivals are prohibited. Fans as well as spectators of other sports are no longer allowed to attend matches.

  • Portugal: local isolation and other national restrictions

Portugal imposed a local ban on three northerndistrict, affecting some 150,000 people, and banned people across the country from all non-essential domestic travel between October 31 and November 2. Parliament agreed to make masks mandatory outdoors for all people over the age of nine.

Previous measures include closing tradingestablishments until 23:00 and a ban on the sale of alcohol in stores, service and gas stations after 20:00. Drinking alcohol is prohibited in public places unless it is part of a food service. Meetings are limited to a maximum of five people. University parties are prohibited, but up to 50 people are allowed for weddings and baptisms.

  • Netherlands: partial isolation for four weeks

All bars, restaurants and cafes serve foodtake away only. The sale of alcohol in shops and restaurants is prohibited after 20:00, and after this time it is prohibited to consume alcohol in public places. All shops except supermarkets are due to close by 20:00 nationwide.

People are encouraged to stay at home and as much as possiblework more from home. A maximum of three people can visit your home per day, and only four can meet outside, but both rules exclude children under 13. Events such as open-air concerts and fairs are prohibited. The measures will be in effect for at least four weeks.

Previous measures such as wearing masks inpublic transport, shops and other premises will also apply. Schools, gyms, swimming pools and saunas will remain open and children under 18 can continue to engage in recreational sports.

  • Czech Republic: new national ban

The Czech Republic became the first country in Europe towhich announced a new state quarantine, similar to the one introduced in the spring. Services, schools and shops, except for convenience stores, will be closed until November 3.

People will not be able to leave their home unless they intend to work, visit family, exercise, buy food or medicine, or seek medical attention.

  • Denmark: new measures to limit social activity

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe, once againopened schools in April. However, at the end of August, the number of cases began to rise sharply. The government responded by introducing a series of new measures in September and October. Sale of alcohol after 22:00 is prohibited until January 2. The number of people allowed to attend meetings has been reduced from 50 to 10.

Masks are now required in all closedin public places. All other existing restrictions have been extended until January 2. These include the closing of bars, restaurants and nightclubs in and around Copenhagen at 22:00.

  • Republic of Ireland: new partial national isolation

Ireland is back to highcoronavirus restrictions on Thursday, October 22. The restrictions are expected to be in effect for six weeks, but will be revised in four. People are asked to stay at home. Those who can work from home should do so.

In homes or gardens it is not allowed to carry outcommunity or family gatherings, but people may meet outdoors with other households, for example, for sports, but within 5 km (about three miles) of their home.

Many minor shops and hairdresserswill close, and bars and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway services. Weddings and funerals will be limited to 25 and 10 people respectively. However, schools and kindergartens will remain open, and sports and construction will continue.

  • Greece: curfew in Athens

In Athens and surrounding areas currentlyThere is a curfew from 00:30 to 05:00, which also applies to other parts of Greece, which are seeing a sharp increase in the number of cases. Other measures include wearing masks both outdoors and in public areas.

  • Sweden: no isolation measures introduced

There was no isolation in Sweden, but following the government's advice, most people respected voluntary social distancing and started working from home where possible.

The number of new infections continues to rise now.

Restrictions in Europe, USA and Asia. What is the difference?

Due to the growing number of cases of COVID-19 and the threatoverloading health care capacities, much of Europe has adopted measures similar to those of Germany and France to limit contacts. Two months ago, as numbers began to rise after a blissful summer calm, Europe still hoped that more limited and targeted measures could prevent a second wave. Now this wave has come with the force of a tsunami. Europe surpassed the United States in the number of infections per capita.

Most countries react without long termplan, just trying to avoid the worst. Officials disagree about how best to bring the numbers back down and how low they should aim. And nobody knows what will happen next. In the absence of vaccines to save the day, countries could face a series of debilitating blockages. Such a haphazard sawtooth scheme, "up-down, up-down", can simply destroy the economy, says Albert Osterhaus, a virologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover. “There is no strategy in Europe as such,” he concludes.

The total restrictions seemed rudetool when China first applied it in Hubei province on January 23rd. However, it was this method of dealing with the spread of the virus that proved surprisingly effective, and countries around the world took the same approach in the spring. Albeit with varying degrees of intensity.

In Europe, the response to the pandemic is moredriven by science than the United States, but unlike many Asian countries, it has failed to prevent its renaissance. Rather than using the summer to bring the number of visits to near zero, Europe marked the holiday season. People seemed to have lost their fear of the virus, says Michael Meyer-Hermann of the Center for Infection Research. Helmholtz, who helped develop isolation plans in Germany. They increasingly violated the rules of physical distancing, wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings.

Spring Restrictions Lessons

Most scientists claim that the introduction of newrestrictions are inevitable if Europe wants to avoid the collapse of health systems. However, experts insist that they are not "as draconian as in the spring." The experience gained allows avoiding measures that seriously restrict people's lives, and at the same time do not contribute to the fight against viruses, says Adam Kuharsky from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"There is no reason why we need to lock people upin their home, ”for example, if they keep their distance outside, agrees Devi Sridhar, chair of the department of global public health at the University of Edinburgh.

The biggest difference from spring might bethat schools remain open in most countries. Karl Lauterbach, a health policy expert and Bundestag member from the Social Democratic Party who helped develop a plan for new restrictions in Germany, is confident that schools are helping to spread the virus. Ultimately, he said, the harm from school closings outweighed the risks when Berlin was deciding the fate of schools.

Calculations show that Germany needsreduce human contacts by about 75% of current levels, Lauterbach emphasizes. "It's incredibly difficult if you want schools and most businesses to stay open." But bars and restaurants account for a lot of contacts and account for only about 1% of Germany's gross domestic product, making them "kind of an ideal target for the response to the pandemic."

The first wave of blockages taught other lessons as well. First, there should be no choice between public health and the economy for the authorities. “In the long term, uncontrolled spread is much worse for the economy,” emphasizes Devi Sridhar. In addition, later blocking means longer restrictions. "If you wait until the infection rate is high enough, two weeks of isolation becomes three months."

Three scenarios for Europe

Despite the public controversy due to newhard limits, there is a much more intriguing and important question. What will happen to Europe in general? Virologist Albert Osterhaus is convinced that the strategy should be to bring the number of cases to zero, using tight and prolonged isolation, combined with strict border controls and quarantine, to prevent the spread of the virus. This strategy, successfully followed by China, Australia and New Zealand, may be politically unpopular. In addition, it will require intensive coordination between countries, which is sorely lacking even in a crisis situation.

Several experts urge governments to followthe example of South Korea. It was possible to reduce the number of cases there thanks to the improvement of the testing and tracking system of the virus, as well as the instant isolation of the infected to prevent the virus from spreading.

At the moment, Europe seems to be stuck inthird scenario: blocking to prevent disruptions to the healthcare system “The hope is that vaccines, treatments and better options will be available in the new year,” says Karl Lauterbach, an expert on health policy. However, this is still a long way off. “All we can do now is break the wave,” he concludes.

"But the water level will remain very high."

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