- The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting Europe, as the number of new daily cases has been increasing considerably for a few days.
- Germany plans to use three strategies to reduce the COVID-19 spread in fall and winter, with Chancellor Angela Merkel vowing not to instate a nationwide lockdown that would hurt the economy.
- Germany is looking to improve its test and trace practices, refocus messaging on hygiene and social distancing, and implement local lockdowns if the number of cases exceeds certain thresholds.
Unlike the US and other countries, most of Europe was able to keep the coronavirus transmission under control during the summer. The curve was flattened by early summer, and countries slowly lifted restrictions, opening economies and bringing some sense of normalcy to everyday life.
But as fall is setting in, more and more European nations report increasing numbers of daily COVID-19 counts, signaling the second wave of the pandemic. Spain, the UK, France, and even Germany have seen significant upticks in cases, forcing lawmakers to consider additional measures to reduce the spread. Germany, a success story for handling the first wave of the pandemic, is considering three strategies to keep COVID-19 transmission under control. Locking down the country and shutting the economy isn’t one of them.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to avoid another national lockdown, CNBC reports. The government is considering other ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the local epidemic from getting out of hand.
Germany was largely successful at beating the first wave of COVID-19. The country employed ample nationwide testing and tracing campaigns to find new COVID-19 cases faster than other states and treat patients sooner. As of Wednesday afternoon’s statistics, Germany reported nearly 291,000 cases and over 9,640 deaths so far.
Germany will continue to apply measures that would allow it to keep the infection and death rates in check. “We want to act regionally, specifically and purposefully, rather than shutting down the whole country again — this must be prevented at all costs,” Merkel told a news conference on Tuesday. “We have learned a lot and did well throughout the summer,” the chancellor said. She added that Germany could see more than 19,000 new cases a day with the current rate of infection.
Merkel announced new restrictions and reminded the people of existing guidance for social distancing and personal hygiene. The country also plans to improve its testing and tracing system. Individuals who provide false information during contact tracing campaigns will risk €50 ($58) fines.
The third key element of Germany’s reaction to the second wave consists of a new hotspot strategy. Regions will initially limit the number of people attending social gatherings to 50 as long as infections exceed 35 people per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days. Once the average surpasses 50 people per 100,000 citizens, only 25 people will be allowed to gather at private functions.
Germany is looking at using fast COVID-19 testing in certain situations, including testing of returning travelers.
“The new wave of regional and targeted measures across much of Europe restrict social activity rather than the ability to work and shop,” chief economist at Berenberg Holger Schmieding said of the new restrictions. He said there are hopes that behavioral changes that include observing face mask and social distancing requirements as well as targeted restrictions “will suffice to turn the tide against the virus and prevent a widespread overburdening of health systems that could otherwise force countries to impose much harsher lockdowns again.”
Spain and the UK have also considered localized lockdowns for Madrid and part sin northern England, respectively.
Just as governments in Europe are looking to enforce additional regulations to limit the second wave of COVID-19, some people took to the streets in protests against new restrictions.