More than a year after the start of the pandemic, Europe is enduring a grim spring. Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are rising in many countries as the continent grapples with a more infectious variant, a shortage of vaccines and public weariness with lockdowns. In France “the epidemic is spreading fast, and it’s spreading everywhere,” prime minister Jean Castex told parliament on Thursday after President Emmanuel Macron announced the country’s third nationwide lockdown, which includes travel restrictions and school closures and extends a 7 pm-6 am curfew.
In two weeks, Castex said, the number of recorded new cases in France had risen 55 percent to about 38,000 a day. This two-week growth compares with a rise of 95 percent in Belgium and 48 percent in the Netherlands in a similar timeframe; in Germany, they have risen 75 percent. Part of this increase reflects an expansion in testing.
The latest pandemic surge in Europe, triggered by the spread of the now dominant B.1.1.7 strain of the virus first noted in England, is often called a “third wave”, but observed across the continent as a whole it is more like a confused sea in which some national epidemics are worsening, some are reaching their peak and others are declining.