Fresh hell: as a second Covid peak hits Europe, these are the ...

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Fresh hell: as a second Covid peak hits Europe, these are the hard lessons

ANALYSIS | The continent faces rising cases and deaths, but the outcome could be very different this time around

Paul Nuki, James Badcock, Nick Squires, Justin Huggler and Henry Samuel

“Almost all the indicators are on the rise,” warned Sophie Vaux, an epidemiologist and programme director at Santé Publique France last week; the coronavirus was once again in an “ascendant phase”, its spread “exponential”.

Vaux’s analysis is hard to fault. Accident and emergency admissions linked to suspected Covid cases rose by 21% in France last week. Hospital admissions were up 34% and intensive care admissions rose by 40%. As one might expect, the death toll was also up. It rose 25% on the week, with 332 deaths recorded in French hospitals and retirement homes, according to data published on Friday.

That Europe, including the UK, is now fighting a second peak there can be no doubt. But the outcomes will - just as they always have - depend largely on government policy and collective behaviours. As Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, pointed out on Monday: “If we do too little, this virus will go out of control and we will get significant numbers of increased direct and indirect deaths, but if we go too far the other way, then we can cause damage to the economy which can feed through to unemployment, to poverty and to deprivation, all of which have long-term health effects.”..

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