Coronavirus is surging at an “alarming” rate in Europe, creating a “very serious situation on the continent”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
Cases are spiking at record highs in several nations such as France as Europe surpassed infections from the first peak of the pandemic in March.
As the second wave takes hold, the WHO’s European director Dr Hans Kluge has warned of “alarming rates of transmission”, with many European governments now considering more lockdowns.
France registered a record 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours in the country’s highest single-day count since the pandemic began.
The UK government has imposed tougher restrictions on people and businesses in parts of northeastern England amid efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 before the colder winter months.
Dr Kluge said in the last two weeks, more than half of European countries recorded an increase of cases of more than 10 per cent and in seven of them even doubled.
“Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March,” Dr Kluge said.
“Last week, the region’s weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients.”
“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region.”
Europe has recorded 4,893,614 cases and 226,524 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Kluge called for “regional coherence” and co-ordinated action as autumn approaches in the northern hemisphere bringing seasonal flu, increased mortality among the elderly and the re-opening of schools for the start of the academic year.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced scathing opposition criticism in parliament over its handling of the pandemic and a contracting economy that has left millions jobless.
India’s infection numbers are expected within weeks to pass the United States, where more than 6.6 million people have been infected.
Confirmed cases jumped by 97,894 in the past 24 hours, raising India’s total past 5.1 million, 0.36 per cent of its nearly 1.4 billion people, the health ministry reported on Thursday.
It also said 1132 more people died in the past 24 hours for a total of 83,198.
India’s fatalities are the third most in the world but experts say India has undercounted the COVID-19 toll.