Western Europe braces for next Covid-19 wave

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, reacts with a mandatory face mask during a press conference at the Ford car plant in Cologne, Germany, as the U.S. car maker restarted production after the coronavirus lockdown on Monday, May 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Governments across Western Europe are approving draft legislation to restrict travel and impose mandatory mask-wearing indoors once again as the arrival of a new coronavirus wave becomes more and more certain.

In Belgium, the number of new infections has been increasing for the seventh consecutive week, resulting in the Belgian government approving a draft law, which includes travel restrictions. The use of the epidemiological data sheet aimed at registering incoming travelers may also be reintroduced in the country, reported the French-language Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique.

According to the newspaper, Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke justified the importance of the expected restrictions, mainly affecting travel, by the epidemiological situation, which has become worrying. The measures, which may include the obligation to quarantine, will apply to travelers to Belgium from areas or countries with poor epidemiological indicators.

According to the latest report of the Belgian health authority, an average of 7,898 new coronavirus infections are being registered in the country every day, which represents a 26 percent increase compared to the previous seven-day period. The average number of deaths rose by 2 percent to 9 in one week. The average daily number of patients transported to the hospital increased by 13 percent to 158, while 2,183 people with coronavirus are being treated in Belgian health institutions. Among them, 98 patients require intensive care.

In Belgium, an average of nearly 22,000 coronavirus tests are performed every day, with a positivity rate of 37.9 percent. The reproduction rate of the virus is 1.09, which means that the rate of spread of the pandemic is continuous in the country. The number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants reached 857 in 14 days. This figure doubled in two weeks.

Meanwhile, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann announced that due to the rising number of coronavirus cases, the use of masks may soon be mandatory again in the country, but other measures — such as the closing of schools or curfews — are not planned. Pursuant to the measure, protective masks will again have to be worn in closed and public spaces in the country.

In addition to these two countries, the use of indoor masks has been ordered in more and more places, such as Cyprus. While in Italy, the mandatory mask-wearing rule on public transport has been extended until September. The number of patients in the sixth wave of the coronavirus epidemic is also increasing in Israel.

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