The coronavirus in Europe on the decline, while still rising in U.S.

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The coronavirus in Europe appears to be on the decline after experiencing a sharp rise in cases, but the U.S. still isn’t bending the curve for its most recent surge in early December. 

According to an Axios report, both the European and North American continents experienced October surges in COVID-19 cases, with Europe’s surge coming two to three weeks before the largely U.S.-driven surge that is currently resulting in record numbers of daily cases and hospitalizations

The article noted that “responses in U.S. states have been uneven and generally less severe than in most European countries,” and some European countries implemented partial, targeted lockdowns that are showing results.

As Axios reported, “Many countries closed bars and restaurants, and nearly all at least limited their opening hours. Social gatherings were also limited—in Germany’s case, to groups of up to five from a maximum of two households (children are exempted). But schools have remained open across nearly all of the continent, and the disruption to economic activity, while highly significant, hasn’t been quite as severe.” 

Those governments have faced some public pushback in the form of anti-lockdown protests. Stephen Kissler, a Harvard University researcher studying the spread of diseases, said, “The evidence shows that these full lockdowns we underwent in the spring aren’t necessary now. We have so much more information now that we can respond a lot more quickly and in a more targeted manner—really just shutting down the types of activities that contribute most to the spread.”

The Washington Post, reporting on Europe’s curve-bending on the coronavirus, noted some encouraging trends in seven-day case averages across the continent. 

“After implementing a strict lockdown and closing nonessential businesses, France has brought daily new cases from about 50,000 a day to roughly 10,000,” the article noted. “A month ago, Belgium had the worst infection rate in Europe, with experts warning of the potential collapse of the nation’s healthcare infrastructure. Now, it has the fifth-lowest infection rate on the continent and plans in place to start distributing vaccines in the first week of January.” 

The article added that Italy dropped its rates for a second consecutive week. But following the peak in case numbers three weeks ago, Italy did experience its highest death toll day on Dec. 3, even surpassing the late March totals that placed worldwide attention on the nation as a COVID-19 hotspot. 

Reuters reported that Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was limiting movement between Italy’s 20 regions from Dec. 21-Jan. 6 for only work, medical, or emergency reasons. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day, Italians will not be allowed to travel outside their towns.

Axios also noted that while some Western European nations are seeing lower test positivity rates with the recent downturn in cases, some Central and Eastern European rates are quite high still, including Poland with 49% and the Czech Republic with 21%. 

Sources: Axios, Washington Post, Reuters

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