Rising Covid-19 cases, more restrictions in Europe

A woman walks by a coronavirus testing station in Prague on Sept 21, 2020.
A woman walks by a coronavirus testing station in Prague on Sept 21, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • England is on track for nearly 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by the middle of next month and a surging death toll unless the public gets serious about preventive action, top government advisers said yesterday.

Rates of infection in England are replicating the strong resurgence of Covid-19 seen in France and Spain, roughly doubling every seven days, government chief medical officer Chris Whitty told a media briefing.

"We are seeing a rate of increase across the great majority of the country," he said, urging the public to respect stricter guidelines on social distancing.

The briefing previewed an expected announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week detailing government action to flatten the exponential coronavirus curve heading into winter, when regular respiratory diseases typically spike.

Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, at the same briefing, said that based on current trends, the daily count of cases will reach about 50,000 on Oct 13, and a month later exceed 200 deaths every day.

Across much of Europe, virus infections are also growing along with restrictions.

France on Sunday reported 10,569 new cases and the authorities are preparing tighter restrictions in several cities. Health Minister Olivier Veran said Lyon and Nice would be under new rules by Saturday, after curbs on public gatherings were imposed in Bordeaux and Marseille.

In Spain, the regional chief of Madrid yesterday requested help from the army. Local authorities have ordered a partial lockdown of some poorer areas of Madrid, prompting protests during the weekend.

In Germany, infection rates have also been rising, reaching levels not seen since April, but still lower than that of its southern neighbours. However, in the Netherlands, the number of daily new cases topped 2,000 for the first time yesterday, data from the health authorities showed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'Rising Covid cases, more restrictions in Europe'. Subscribe