Madrid, Oct 2 (efe-epa).- The second Covid-19 wave in Spain could be an early warning sign of what is to come elsewhere in Europe, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.
María Neira, the director of public health at the WHO, said it was a “red alert” for the continent.
The WHO is analyzing why Spain has failed to curb coronavirus transmission rates — it is leading Europe with a two-week incidence rate of 274,8 per 100,000 people — but has not arrived at a conclusion, Neira said during a debate with the Nueva Economía Fórum.
Theories for the exponential rise in cases in Spain have ranged from young people ignoring health and safety measures to big family gatherings, but Neira said neither justified the scope of the increase in cases.
She said Spain could be considered “a red alert, an early warning for what may be the situation in other places within a short period of time.”
Spain’s capital Madrid and nine of its satellite cities are set to enforce a partial lockdown from Friday night in a bid to flatten the curve in what is the country’s most ferocious second wave of Covid-19.
The new measures, which have prompted a political fallout between Madrid’s regional authorities and the national government, mean residents will need to provide justification to leave the city for work, to care for vulnerable people or attend a doctor’s appointment.
Madrid has logged a two-week incidence rate of 784 cases per 100,000 people, more than twice the national average.
France is close behind Spain with a cumulative incidence rate of 220.9 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Belgium with 184.8 and the Netherlands with 180.4.
While authorities in Spain scramble to contain the second wave of Covid-19 ahead of the winter months, other European nations are watching on anxiously as their own numbers begin to spike.
Along with Spain, Italy was one of the worst-hit countries when the outbreak first emerged earlier this year. It was the first European nation to implement national lockdown.
Having stabilized the situation over the summer, the number of cases being detected each day in Italy has returned to levels not seen since mid-April, a dark period for the country when hospitals were overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.
Italy’s health ministry reported 2,548 new cases in the space of the last 24 hours Thursday.
Daily coronavirus records are also already surging across central and eastern Europe.
Polish authorities on Friday reported 2,292 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily increase since the pandemic began. In the neighboring Czech Republic, where a state of emergency was declared this week to deal with a surge in transmission rates, health authorities alerted 3,493 new Covid-19 cases, toppling another daily record in the central European nation.
In Germany, daily figures were up to levels not seen since April with some 2,600 cases detected on Friday. EFE-EPA