Advertisement

Coronavirus deaths across Europe remain stubbornly high, writes James Mates

An emergency worker wears protective clothing in Spain (left). While coffins are carried in Spain (top) and Italy (bottom). Credit: AP

On Monday, the numbers of dead in Spain from coronavirus stood at around 2,000. Today it is just over 4,000. Horrifying, and yet despite that there is some very slight hope that things may be beginning to slow.

In Italy too, terrible numbers but there are some signs the ‘curve may be flattening’.

Spain

The country saw 655 new deaths in the last 24 hours, a huge number but slightly smaller than yesterday. That is the first time that one day’s numbers have been down on the day before. Small mercies.

The number of new infections, 8,578 is up on yesterday and in fact the highest single day’s figures ever seen in Europe. But the percentage rate of growth is slightly down. Again just the very tiniest sliver of hope.

Italy

The numbers remain stubbornly high. They are not going up fast, but not falling either. 662 deaths in the last 24 hours, almost the same as yesterday, but 6,153 new cases, up about a thousand on yesterday.

The new infections especially will worry people. If the lockdown doesn’t stop thousands a day catching this virus, what will? Particularly bad news in Lombardy where the number of new cases has risen sharply - by more than 2,500 in the last 24 hours, compared to a rise of 1,643 yesterday.

Eighteen days after the restrictions went into place there, this was not supposed to happen. Lombardy’s Governor described them as “not good”. An understatement perhaps.

Medics in Germany attend to a patients with coronavirus. Credit: AP

France

There has been 231 new deaths reported in just the last 24 hours, taking their total to 1,331.

Once again we are seeing their worst day ever, but the rate of growth on the previous two days slightly down.

Economic activity in France is now 65% of what it was before the crisis, a number likely to be similar to that across the continent. French police officers are threatening to refuse to enforce the country’s strict lockdown unless they are all issued with masks.

Medical staff transfer a patient affected with the Covid-19 virus into a high-speed train turned into an intensive care unit in Strasbourg. Credit: AP

Switzerland

They locked down early and hard, but is also suffering badly with more than a thousand new infections today alone.

EU response

Leaders have been meeting by video conference to work on their response to the crisis. There was supposed to have been a full Brussels summit today.

There is pressure to agree to so-called ‘Eurobonds’ that would share the burden of the extra borrowing that is going to be required to keep European economies afloat. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are bitterly opposed.

If there is no pan-European response to the economic crisis, there is likely to be significant fallout, especially in southern Europe. In Italy trust in the EU is already being recorded as down to 30%.

  • Listen to James Mates on the situation in Europe in today's episode of our podcast Coronavirus: What You Need To Know. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Spotify - or listen here