EDUCATIONEnglishHEALTHCAREImportant StoriesINTERNATIONALNATIONAL

Corona Returns: Lockdowns resume in Europe as second wave rises

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: Those who became careless and threw precaution to the winds, confusing a ‘lull’ in the Covid-19 intensity with the virus’ waning, should think again: lockdown has returned in the United Kingdom on Friday, with its mayor warning of a “difficult winter ahead”.

Earlier, Canada and some European countries had also reported a surging second wave.

The global pandemic has so far infected more than 39 million and killed over 1.1 million people globally. After the USA’s 82.88 lakh infections and 223,644 deaths, India has the dubious distinction of being the second most infected nation: 74 lakh positive cases and 113,032 deaths. And India might overtake America in the next few weeks or months as the mutant coronavirus returns with more ferocity.

On Friday, London announced new restrictions, banning different households from mixing indoors in a bid to minimize further infections. The United Kingdom has been rated ‘medium’ (Tier 1) in the new three-tier rating system to alert local people as the existing restrictions, including social distancing and curfew, continued.

In England, infection rates have risen towards the 100 per 100,000 trigger point. London has been placed in Tier 2, which means a ban on different households meeting indoors, particularly in ‘high alert’ areas.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Infection rates are on a steep upward path with the number of cases doubling every 10 days.

“We know from the first peak, the infection can spread fast and put huge pressures on the National Health Service (NHS) so we must act now to prevent the need for tougher measures later on.”

Upgradation from Tier 1 to 2 also means a ban on social bubbles indoors, including in homes, pubs, and restaurants. Groups of up to six people will still be able to meet outdoors in public spaces and private gardens.

Mayor Sadiq Khan warned Londoners that they could face a “difficult winter ahead”, telling the London Assembly that the decision was based on “expert public health and scientific advice” about what is necessary to save lives in the city.

The UK has re-imposed restrictions in hard-hit regions such as Liverpool where the careless people ignored the latest round of curbs, flocked the streets, and partied right before the restrictions kicked in.

Similar scenes were witnessed in Glasgow and The Hague, the Netherlands, horrifying the authorities and health experts, who now realized the kind of real struggle they would face in the coming weeks.

The Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in different hospitals are getting crowded again with returning lockdowns and fresh infections.

Media reports said the world currently has four active hotspots. The United States is again reporting a massive surge from 30,000- 35,000 new cases per day in early September, to an average of 50,000 new cases daily. Between October 8 and 14, the US reported more than 350,000 cases.

The second most infected nation is India with the world’s second-highest number of cases. While there has been a drop in the number of daily infections in the recent past, the coming winter could be challenging.

Several cities in Europe have been forced to go into a lockdown mode again. The Continent is reporting more daily infections than the three worst-hit countries — the United States, India, and Brazil. Over the past week, Europe has recorded more than 100,000 new infections every day.

In Russia also, more than 15,000 infections were recorded in the past 24 hours alone, a new record.

After reopening the cities, the European government is now battling the world outbreak since April. France has declared a health emergency.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Europe that if the restrictions are relaxed the daily mortality rates could go up by four to five times. Experts fear that the changing weather is responsible for the surging second wave.