COVID-19: Europe Struggles As Number of Deaths Surge Unabated

Bako, John Chukwudi

COVID-19 is the official name for the coronavirus disease 2019. The disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which had not previously been identified in humans. The outbreak has been declared a global pandemic: more than half a million people have been infected with the virus. There is currently no treatment for the disease, and health systems around the world are becoming overstretched. Pharmaceutical companies and research groups are racing to develop an effective vaccine. All of Statista’s COVID-19 content is free to access.

Outside China where the pandemic started late last year precisely 17, November 2019 (weeks before authorities acknowledged new virus, says Chinese media) amid allegations of cover up by the Chinese authorities, Italy, Spain and Germany are worse hit countries.

Earlier reports, in the South China Morning Post, said Chinese authorities had identified at least 266 people who contracted the virus last year and who came under medical surveillance. The Chinese government was widely criticized over attempts to cover up the outbreak in the early weeks, including crackdowns on doctors who tried to warn colleagues about a new SARS-like virus which was emerging in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province (The Guardian 2020).

Available data Thursday March 30 revealed that 724,588 people have been infected by the virus, 34,017 have died and 152,076 people were reported to have recovered globally. Italy went from the discovery of the first official COVID-19 case to a government decree that prohibited all movements of people within the whole territory, and the closure of all non-essential business activities. Within this very short time period, the country has been hit by nothing short of a tsunami of unprecedented force, punctuated by an incessant stream of deaths. It is unquestionably Italy’s biggest crisis since World War II. The country has recorded 97,689 infections, 10,779 deaths and 13,030 people already recovered.

Closely followed is Spain with 80,110 people infected and 6,803 dead. France has recorded 40,174 infections, 7,202 were reported to have recovered and 2,606 have died alone without loved ones around them. In the United Kingdom, a total number of those infected is 19,522 and, 1,228 have died as well.

Military Emergency Unit members disinfect Nuevos Ministerios metro station during a partial lockdown as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the spr

The outbreak of coronavirus in Europe is putting unprecedented strain on the health-care systems in Italy, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom, with hospitals in the worst-affected areas close to the breaking point. In Italy for instance, in less than three months, the coronavirus has overloaded hospitals in northern Italy, offering a glimpse of what countries face if they cannot slow the contagion. Italy went from having a handful of cases to the first largest death toll highest after China, flooding intensive-care units with hundreds of patients.

The situation in Spain is not too far from what is being experienced in Italy. Spain, where the government used a royal decree (463/2020) to declare days of national emergency, however, has one of the highest burdens of coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide.

Police officers outside hospital

The Spanish health system is equally overstretched and struggling. “Doctors in Spain  are totally overwhelmed as hospitals reach coronavirus breaking point amid soaring death toll”, Graham Keeley2020. Painfully, Spain too is grappling with an unprecedented healthcare crisis. On Friday, the number of people killed by coronavirus soared by a record 769 in just 24 hours to 4,858, health authorities said. This is the highest rise in one day in the country since the start of the pandemic.

Countries Total Infections Active Infections Recoveries Deaths
USA 142,735 135,685 4,562 2,488
Italy 97,689 73,880 13,030 10,779
China 81,470 2,466 75,700 3,304
Spain 80,110 58,598 14,709 6,803
Germany 62,435 52,683 9,211 541
France 40,174 30,366 7,202 2,606
Iran 38,309 23,278 12,391 2,640
United Kingdom 19,522 18,159 135 1,228
Switzerland 14,829 12,934 1,595 300
Netherlands 10,866 9,845 250 771

Many health workers in Garcia’s hospital have come down with the virus – some are in self-isolation at home, while others have had to be admitted to intensive care. It is a national crisis, with more than 9,400 health workers across the country testing positive for the virus, Spain’s health emergency chief confirmed. The Spanish government after critical review of the situation declared a state of emergency on 14 March, ordering the closure of non-essential shops and schools. People were told to stay at home except in the case of buying food or medicine.

In the United Kingdom, London hospitals are facing a “continuous tsunami” of coronavirus patients and some are already overwhelmed. According to Chris Hopson, the Chief Executive of NHS Provided, hospitals had expanded critical care capacity between five and sevenfold in the last weeks, but chief executives have been alarmed by the speed at which beds are filling up in the capital. Hopson said the problems had been exacerbated by medical staff off sick with suspected coronavirus or in vulnerable groups, with 30% to 50% not at work in some trusts. He said hospitals had expanded critical care capacity between five and sevenfold. but chief executives have been alarmed by the speed at which beds are filling up in the capital. Earlie study by doctors warned that hospitals in England will run short of critical care beds for Covid-19 patients within 14 days if the numbers becoming severely ill reach those experienced in Italy.

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A paper by a team at the University of Cambridge said that five of the seven NHS commissioning regions will have more patients needing critical care than the number of beds normally available in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) within a fortnight. Medical suppliers including protective equipment are greatly inadequate and of great concern for doctors and nurses.

The United Kingdom’s government has urged the public to work from home and avoid pubs, restaurants and theaters to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the death toll rises. The Prime Minister of UK Boris Johnson before he tested positive told people to avoid unnecessary social contact and travel and to not visit nursing homes. Johnson called those older 70 and those with the most serious health conditions to stay at home for 12 weeks. “It now looks as though we are approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve, and without drastic action, cases could double every five or six days,” Johnson said. The government’s strategy is to try to avoid a spike in cases that could easily inundate the NHS. The coronavirus pandemic comes at a vulnerable time for the country’s NHS. A decade of crippling funding cuts has left tens of thousands of vacancies and has led to record emergency room wait times. Doctors worry about whether the system can hold up. The British government has ordered 10,000 ventilators designed by vacuum cleaner company Dyson, the BBC reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged “massive investments” in the country’s public hospital health system, close to a breaking point as it copes with the coronavirus outbreak which has already caused 1,331 deaths in the country

The coronavirus (SARS CoV2) is spreading rapidly in Germany and may likely lead to collapse of German healthcare system as early as May 2020, Arens 2020.  Chancellor Angela Merkel stated bluntly that one had to expect that between 60 and 70 percent of the population would contract coronavirus. Merkel’s priority, however, is to avoid the healthcare system being “overwhelmed.” According to Merkel, the key issue is “to keep economic life going to some extent.” Professor Christian Drosten, a virologist at Berlin’s Charité hospital, warned of an “extremely serious situation.” He added, “We must assume that we are rushing into the midst of an epidemic,” and urged swift public action and radical measures. Some hospitals in Germany have reported decline in the donation of their blood supplies, though this development is not totally connected or related to the emergence of the coronavirus, but it is a thing of great concern to huge German population. Available reports revealed that Hospitals in Greifswald and Rostock have reported a noticeable drop in blood donors.

epa08317098 A soldier wearing a facemask stands guard in the street amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis, in Las Pinas, south of Manila, Philippines, 24 March 2020. According to the Department

The blood donor service for the north-east, a part of Germany’s Red Cross, noted that a sharp decline in blood donors is currently being observed. Increasingly, hospitals are asking their already overworked staff to donate more blood. Should the Germany health system collapse, it is the working people who would pay the greatest price. Der Spiegel noted an article that the way the rich and super-rich are responding to the coronavirus emphasizes that more than enough money exists to initiate an effective program to combat its spread. “How the rich are dealing with the crisis,” unlimited amounts of money are being wasted to protect them from the disease.

Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unquantifiable. The pandemic has caused whole industries, such as travel, manufacturing, production and tourism, to be negatively affected. It has led to delays and cancellation in the shipment of goods, the cancellation of major sports events and concerts, the postponement of film releases, the stoppage and cancellation of flights, and declines in the stock market.  Full impact of coronavirus on the global economy is difficult to predict or certain at this period but one thing that is clear is that the global economy is in recession.