The number of cases across the country passed the one million mark this week – with half of these infections only occurring in the last 19 days. The number of deaths is 42,953 – the sixth highest number in the world.
Hospitals across the country have struggled to cope with the skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, but the poorer South appeared particularly ill-equipped to deal with it, despite having had all summer to strengthen its defenses.
The sick in Naples have been given oxygen and drip through their car windows while waiting hours for COVID-19 tests or being hospitalized. Further south, on the island of Sicily, the mayor of Palermo warned his region on Monday of an “inevitable massacre” when infections arose there.
Signs of hope in Germany, France, but virus strains in hospitals
The surge in new coronavirus cases appears to be slowing in Germany and France, raising hopes that the two European heavyweights will regain control of the pandemic. But authorities said Thursday, local time, the hospitals are overcrowded and likely to face further stress in the coming weeks.
Countries across Europe have taken more or less drastic lockdown measures in the past few weeks to contain a resurgence of the pandemic. Numerous confirmed cases have set records. They have largely overtaxed the efforts to trace contacts in Germany as well, as the first cases of the pandemic were treated well and they are still in better shape than most of the neighbors.
“That doesn’t mean that things can really get going again from December or January and that we can hold wedding celebrations or Christmas parties as if nothing were going to happen – that won’t work,” Jens Spahn told RBB Inforadio.
“I don’t see any events with more than 10 or 15 people this winter.”
Germany started its four-week “Lockdown Light” on November 2nd. Restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities are closed, but schools and shops remain open.
On Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center, announced that 21,866 new cases have been recorded in the nation of 83 million in the past 24 hours. That’s less than a record of 23,399 on Saturday, but almost 2,000 more than a week earlier.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex was due to announce later on Thursday that authorities would regain control of the virus.
A doctor who advised the French government, Antoine Flahault, said on BFM television that “after two weeks of lockdown, the epidemic is coming back under control. We no longer see this exponential curve ”.
However, doctors warn that hospitals continue to be overcrowded and urge the public to follow lockdown measures. A helicopter transported patients from saturated hospitals in the Lyon region to the eastern city of Strasbourg on Thursday.
Few people are currently traveling with the growing fear of viruses and the new round of European restrictions. Nevertheless, the German airline Lufthansa has started a test program to ensure health on board and encourage more people to fly.
All passengers on a domestic Munich-Hamburg flight on Thursday morning completed a so-called antigen test and were only allowed to board after the quick results showed that they were negative for the corona virus. Passengers were not billed for the test, but should arrive an hour early to have time for the results.
Lufthansa did not immediately have details of how many passengers were on the first flight.
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