How other countries are considering a Covid lockdown amid the latest surge in infections

·3 min read
The WHO warned that the pandemic will last into 2022  (REUTERS)
The WHO warned that the pandemic will last into 2022 (REUTERS)

Health secretary Sajid Javid gave the UK a sobering warning that coronavirus restrictions could return in the run-up to Christmas and daily infection rates could reach over100,000 if people failed to exercise caution.

The warning comes as coronavirus infections in England hit almost 50,000 a day prompting the new health secretary to hold the first coronavirus press conference at Downing Street for five weeks.

Latest figures show England recorded 49,139 cases on Tuesday, with 869 hospitalisations and 179 deaths. The total of 954 deaths over the past seven days was up 21 per cent on the previous week, while the seven-day total of 6,074 hospital admissions was up 11 per cent.

As winter approaches, coronavirus cases worldwide are expected to increase with the World Health Organisation warning that the pandemic will drag into 2022. So, are other countries considering a lockdown too?

Are coronavirus infections increasing outside the UK?

Latvia has become the first country to impose a lockdown in Europe’s new Covid wave as Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said the nation’s health system is in “danger.” The lockdown will last four weeks beginning from 21 October to 15 November and will see shops, restaurants, schools and entertainment will be closed. New cases in Latvia increased 49 per cent.

Only 54 per cent of Latvian adults have been fully vaccinated, well below the EU average of 74 per cent, EU figures show.

Latvia’s coronavirus rates are some of the highest in Europe with 13,133 cases per million in the last fortnight compared to 8,004 in the UK.

Romania and Ukraine have also seen their intensive care units under intense pressure as coronavirus cases reach record numbers there.

Romanian authorities confirmed on Tuesday that coronavirus infection and death rates in the nation had hit a daily record with 18,863 new infections and 574 deaths in one day. It was the first time Romania had surpassed 500 deaths in a day.

Whilst full lockdown has not yet been imposed in Romania, the government has implemented lighter restrictions since the end of September including mandatory masks outside and indoor places such as restaurants operating at reduced capacity and only for vaccinated people.

Russia has also been making steps closer to a full lockdown. Moscow authorities announced a new ten day lockdown on Thursday, as the city’s hospitals struggle to cope with a major uptick in Covid admissions and deaths. On the same day, Russia posted a record daily high of both coronavirus-related deaths and new COVID-19 infections. The official death toll of 227,389 is by some way the highest in Europe.

Coronavirus rates in Moscow are increasing (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Coronavirus rates in Moscow are increasing (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

On Wednesday, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered a week-long paid holiday to curb the spread of infections.

Belgium’s government warned Thursday that the country could well be on the cusp of another major surge in COVID-19 cases despite its high vaccination rate.

Similar to the UK, the Netherlands has a high number of fully vaccinated people (81 per cent of over-12s) but is also facing increasing coronavirus pressures. Coronavirus rates in the Netherlands jumped 44 per cent in the week to Tuesday forcing the government to cut back on regular care to deal with rising cases.

Almost 80 per cent of the UK’s eligible population is vaccinated (PA)
Almost 80 per cent of the UK’s eligible population is vaccinated (PA)

Its coronavirus rate is lower than the UK’s at 2,531 per million in the last fortnight and recorded 49 deaths on Tuesday compared to 189 in the UK on the same day.

Sajid Javid said the situation in the UK hasn’t yet reached a point causing the government to activate its plan B.

But he added: “If we feel at any point the pressures are becoming unsustainable, we won’t hesitate to act.”

This article was amended on October 26 2021 to make clear that the figure of almost 80% of the British population who had been vaccinated referred to the proportion of eligible people, which is those aged 12 and over. The article previously also included a slightly higher figure for The Netherlands, but that related to those over 18 who had been vaccinated. We changed that to the respective figure for over 12s, as it was cited in comparison to the UK.

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