Europe Coronavirus Situation
When coronavirus was first announced in Wuhan, China, no one would have anticipated that Europe would be the next and the hardest-hit region. As of 13 March 2020, cases in the whole of Europe has exceeded those in China. It was this time that WHO declared Europe the epicentre of the pandemic.
Before this declaration, most of the European countries had downplayed the pandemic. A good example is Spain and Italy, which are the countries that recorded the highest numbers of infections and deaths in Europe. But unlike the US, Brazil and other countries across the world, most of the Europe countries have managed to flatten the curve.
What European countries did to contain the virus is putting up restrictions on the movement of the people in the most affected areas. However, as the cases across the individual countries rose rapidly, and the health system would start getting overwhelmed. That’s when most countries imposed stiffer restriction on movement, banned gathering, closing schools and suspended sports activities.
Some countries like Spain opted for a total shut down. This was after the number of the active cases shot quickly in March. By 14 March, Spain declared a state of the emergency and imposed a national wide lockdown which came into force on 16 March.
It is after the six-week lockdown that Spain was able to contain the virus. However, it was during the lockdown period the country recorded most of the deaths. This means the virus had already spread across the country before the lockdown.
With the cases rising rapidly, the Italian government closed all schools and universities national wide by 4 March. By March 9 March, sports activities had been suspended in Italy before all commercial activities were suspended except supermarkets and pharmacies on 11 March. However, this was too late because, on 19 March, Italy overtook China as the country with most coronavirus related deaths.
Like most of the European nations, Germany recorded its first covid-19 case on 27 January, 2020. However, the government was still considering the virus as “very low health risk” for Germans. On 28 February, Germany was second to Italy with the highest coronavirus infections. That’s when the federal states started closing down schools.
On 22 March, Germany banned gathering of more than two people. Social distancing was also imposed to help reduce the spread of the virus. The wearing of the surgical masks and other types, including make-shift masks while in public also became mandatory. These are the measures that helped Germany to successfully bring the coronavirus infection and death curve down. By 20 April, stores had started to reopen. Germany so far recorded 9,136 deaths as of writing.
Russia was one of the European countries that are less affected by the coronavirus. The country reported the first case much later, on 2 March. Learning from other European countries, the Russian government moved in swiftly to contain the virus. By 24 January, the government had already developed a testing system.
As of 23 March, Russia had carried out over 165 thousand tests for the virus. By 29 May, over 10 million tests. This was among the world’s highest testing numbers.
In addition to massive testing, the Russian government went ahead and imposed quarantines and carrying raids on potential virus carriers. Government’s use of facial recognition to impose quarantine measures also played a critical in fighting the pandemic. It’s all these measures that helped Russia contain the virus. Russia has so far recorded eleven thousand deaths, which is relatively small (per capita deaths) compared to most of the European countries.
Unlike their counterparts in Europe, Sweden remained open while other locking down their countries. The main strategy that the Public Health Agency of Sweden took was first to protect the senior and vulnerable citizens. They then embarked upon a process to slow down the virus to avoid getting healthcare system overwhelmed.
But the decision not to restrict movement cost Sweden a lot in terms of deaths. At one point, the country had the highest deaths per capita in Europe. With 5,526 deaths as writing and a population of slightly above 10 million, it still has one of the highest deaths per million.
Despite being the hardest hit by the coronavirus, most European countries managed to flatten the curve. But this is after a huge loss of life. Early government interventions such as imposing movement restrictions, wearing masks and testing played a critical role in reducing. Russia is one of the European countries that performed pretty well in all three containment measures.
The availability of the PPEs and other essential equipment also played a crucial role in containing the virus. Despite some of the countries like Italy and Spain being harder hit at first, they were able to contain the virus. Other countries who got the virus breakout after the two, such as Russia, were able to handle it better hence fewer deaths and infections per capita.