France recorded another sharp rise is coronavirus cases yesterday with 4,700 infections – up by a thousand – while Italy has seen its highest daily tally since May.
There have also been worrying spikes in Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Croatia – much of it blamed on holidaying Europeans and youngsters enjoying parties in the summer heatwave.
Italy registered 845 new cases on Thursday, its highest figure for three months, while France’s 4,771 fresh infections was a colossal increase on Wednesday’s 3,776.
Britons were scrambling to return home from Croatia and Austria last night after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps declared that anyone arriving from the countries must self-isolate for 14 days.
Italy registered 845 new cases on Thursday, its highest daily tally since May, while France’s 4,771 fresh infections was a colossal increase on Wednesday’s 3,776 (pictured: a graph of the rolling 7-day average)
A local arrives to take the coronavirus test at the Amedeo Savoia Hospital in Turin, Italy, 20 August 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his protective facemask as he attends the 76th anniversary of the Allied landings in Provence during World War II which helped liberate southern France, in Bormes-les-Mimosas on August 17
Britons packed into Split airport in Croatia on Thursday after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added it to the 14-day quarantine list
Tourists and beachgoers enjoy the sea, sand and sun along the Mare e Sol beach in Coti-Chiavari, Corsica on August 14, 2020
British Airways economy flights from Zagreb to London are up at £276 today compared to £82 on Monday.
Around 20,000 British tourists are thought to be in Croatia.
In Vienna its a similar story, £482 to Heathrow compared to £109 for the same route on Sunday.
The Scottish Government has also announced that Switzerland is being added to its quarantine list.
Weekly coronavirus cases in Croatia have increased by more than 179 percent from 7.8 per 100,000 to 21.5 per 100,000.
In Austria, it’s a 79.5 percent increase on the previous week from 8 per 100,000 to 14.4 per 100,000.
And in Switzerland – another nexus of European tourism – weekly cases have increased by 54.6 percent in the last week, from 11.1 per 100,000 to 17.2 per 100,000.
Germany is also experiencing an increase of 26.1% on last week, with particular concern in Berlin where the contagion is soaring wildly after overcrowding in its parks during the heat.
Much of the rise has been blamed on returning holidaymakers as well as summer parties and family gatherings.
The latest figures, from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, bring to 228,621 the number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic.
It takes the daily toll back to a level not seen since late April, when the pandemic was considered to be at its peak.
The daily record of new cases in Germany is just over 6,000, registered in early April.
Ten new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,253.
Faced with a surge in cases, Germany earlier this month introduced free, mandatory tests for anyone returning from areas deemed a high risk for COVID-19 infections.
But despite the second wave gathering momentum, the head of the WHO’s European branch said that reimposing a full-scale lockdown measures would not be necessary.
Hans Kluge said: ‘With the basic nationwide and additional targeted measures, we are in a much better position to stamp out these localized virus flare-ups.
‘We can manage the virus and keep the economy running and an education system in operation.’
It comes as the World Bank warned on Thursday that as many as 100 million people may have been driven back into extreme poverty by the virus.
Germany will need to take on yet more debt in 2021 to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said.
Residents and tourists go for a walk on seaside in La Concha beach, in San Sebastian, Basque Country, northern Spain, 19 August 2020
Tourists enjoy their holidays at the Figueretes beach on August 17, 2020 in Ibiza, Spain
‘Next year we will continue to be forced to suspend the debt rule and spend considerable funds to protect the health of citizens and stabilise the economy,’ Scholz said in an interview with the Funke media group, referring to Germany’s cherished policy of keeping a balanced budget.
The government has pledged over a trillion euros in aid to shield companies and citizens in Europe’s top economy from the pandemic fallout, including through loans, grants and subsidised shorter-hours programmes.
The figures added urgency to the desperate bid to find a vaccine for the virus, which has infected more than 22 million and killed hundreds of thousands since it first emerged in China late last year.
Russia announced on Thursday it was pushing forward with testing on more than 40,000 people of its candidate drug, known as Sputnik V, which has already been hailed by Russian officials as a success even as experts questioned the rigour of the testing regime.
Several drugs are approaching the mass-testing phase, and countries around the world have been pre-ordering many millions of doses.
The EU said on Thursday it had concluded talks with a German pharmaceutical firm to secure 225 million doses of a potential vaccine – the fourth such agreement the bloc has reached.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed European cooperation on the issue and said he was hopeful that a vaccine would come online with the next few months.
‘This will not solve the problems of the next few weeks, but of the next few months,’ he said.
However, while a vaccine remains elusive, governments are left trying to control the spread through social-distancing measures, quarantines, travel bans and restrictions on businesses.