South Korea and Iran are experiencing the second wave while Germany and Portugal re-impose restrictions. The rate of infections is accelerating, especially in the American continent.
While one part of the world is dealing with the acceleration of the pandemic, another, which already believed that the virus was controlled, is now facing new outbreaks and the fear of a second wave that would force to re-impose restrictions or even to have to confine back to the part of its population. Germany has closed again schools, bars, museums, and gyms in a territory where 640,000 people live to fight an outbreak with more than 1,500 affected in a large meat company. Portugal has also reversed Lisbon’s lack of confidence and has once again limited people meetings and business hours. Israel has imposed new confinements in areas with strong outbreaks.
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating. The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has been repeating for a few days that countries cannot be trusted: “We are in a new and dangerous phase. More than two-thirds of recent deaths have occurred in America. The United States already has 120,000 dead. Brazil, 50,000. Mexico has exceeded 22,000.
The WHO warned of the unstoppable advance of the virus last week when 150,000 cases a day were reached for the first time. On Sunday, they rose to 183,000, the highest number since the start of the epidemic. To illustrate the rate at which the coronavirus is taking, the WHO chief used a highly graphic comparison on Monday: almost 9 million cases have been reported worldwide so far. The first million was reached after three months of epidemic. The last million has been accounted for in the previous eight days alone. Ghebreyesus began his appearance very seriously: “It seems that every day we reach a new and somber record.”
While some territories are at the top of the first wave, with drastic increases in transmission, in others, there are concerns about outbreaks or the arrival of second waves. These are states that believed that they had overcome the worst of the epidemic, that confined their populations, and little by little, are trying to regain some normality by opening their economies.
Epidemiologist Antoni Trilla does not believe that it is possible to speak of the second wave in almost any country and even less in European states such as Germany or Portugal. “We are not out of the first set,” he says. Between one wave and the next, there should be “a period of rest, peace, or truce,” he adds. It is not established for long, but it should be relatively long and with the situation very stable, with low incidences. At the time when, after that break, the number of cases increased disproportionately, with the indigenous transmission, and the track of transmission chains was lost, it could be said that the second wave is happening, explains the ISGlobal researcher and chief of medicine Preventive Clinic of Barcelona.
Faced with a punctual increase in cases during that valley period, “a relatively small accumulation more or less localized”, we would be talking about an outbreak. The concept of regrowth is not used in epidemiology, adds Trilla, but it could be understood as the appearance of a group of cases where there has been one previously. “We must remember that there is still transmission of the virus, and there will continue to be outbreaks,” he warns. “This is not over, and we have to be very careful.”
Faced with a punctual increase in cases during that valley period, “a relatively small accumulation more or less localized”, we would be talking about an outbreak. The concept of regrowth is not used in epidemiology, adds Trilla, but it could be understood as the appearance of a group of cases where there has been one previously. “We must remember that there is still transmission of the virus, and there will continue to be outbreaks,” he warns. “This is not over, and we have to be very careful.” He gives the example of countries that were modeled at the beginning, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Iceland, or Germany, which now faces an outbreak of 1,500 cases and has had to quarantine an entire neighborhood.” It was interpreted that they had done it so well that they had taken it off, and it is not. They have done very well, but it can touch them again.”
The situation in the United States and Latin America is of “extreme concern,” says Trilla, not only because they are adding cases to tens of thousands every day, but also because the southern winter will soon enter, a “perfect recipe” with “more viruses circulating. , colder, people staying home and less chance of the conditions of temperature, humidity, and sun that help to slow down the transmission of the virus. “With the added problem arrives after a powerful first volley, without rest, with the virus circulating and, in some countries, “very uncontrolled”.
The epidemic in Asia
South Korea, one of the countries that most effectively managed to get out of the first onslaught of the virus in its territory, has admitted that it is fighting the second wave of infections that started in the capital, Seoul, during a weekend in May. In which many leisure establishments were reopened. This Monday, the country, which until now maintained that the increase in infections was due to the fact that the first wave had not yet passed, recognized for the first time that it is immersed in the second wave of diseases, both imported and locally transmitted.
Experts also assume that Iran is experiencing a second wave of the virus, which has hit the country just as its inhabitants began to relax. This second attack is as virulent as the first, or more. The country’s authorities ensure that they now do more tests than in March, which explains the increase in cases. The latest figures show that almost 3,000 new positives are recorded daily, more than at the end of March. This Tuesday, Iran has confirmed 121 more fatalities in just 24 hours and is already close to 10,000 deaths.
The setback in the containment of the pandemic is increasing in Israel amid fear of a second wave, reports Juan Carlos Sanz. The government has announced that it will approve this Tuesday the implementation of restricted areas in various parts of the country where infections have exploded. The Palestinian Authority has already established partial confinement in areas such as Hebron with positive cases doubling in just two weeks after the de-escalation.
Australia has again recommended confinement to nearly one million people living in the State of Victoria. It is considering whether to make it mandatory to stay home after detecting an uptick in cases. The outbreaks originated from family reunions and birthday parties and affected the second most populous city, Melbourne.
Germany imposes restrictions on 640,000 people
Nor is Europe spared. The outbreak with more than 1,500 affected in a large meat company in northern Germany has forced to re-impose restrictive measures on an area where 640,000 people live, reports Ana Carbajosa. It is not a return to confinement, but it does mean closing public places and limiting contact between people. The new restrictions, announced by the head of the regional government, Armin Laschet, apply to the entire Gütersloh district, where some 360,000 people live and involve the closure of bars, museums, and gyms. The restrictions, the first in the country since the de-escalation began, also force reducing contacts between people and will be in force until June 30. At the moment, the authorities consider that the outbreak is located among the employees of the Tönnies meat industry and that it has not spread to the rest of the population, where a total of 24 infections have been registered.
In Portugal, a country considered exemplary in how it managed to control the arrival of the epidemic. They are also concerned about the rate of new infections in recent days. The government has imposed new restrictions since Tuesday in the Lisbon metropolitan region. The maximum number of attendees at concentrations goes from 20 to 10 people, and there will be fines for those who do not comply with the regulations. Commercial establishments will necessarily close at eight in the afternoon, except in restaurants that serve dinner.
With the so-called new normality just released, Spain is also experiencing some outbreaks in various communities. Of the 36 detected since May, 12 are still active, according to Fernando Simón, director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES). These new groupings of cases do not concern the health authorities, which are now able to identify and control them.