Europe rocked by devastating third wave amid EU’s vaccine failure as infections surge
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The bloc’s largest countries Germany, France and Italy have witnessed a worrying surge in cases as eurocrats struggle to get their vaccine procurement crisis under control. Measures to curb the spread of the pandemic have also been tightened in Poland and the Czech Republic, which have two of the highest infection rates on the Continent. It will come as another devastating blow to the EU’s joint vaccination programme, which critics have complained has been far too slow.
The EU27 have administered at least one dose of a Covid jab to seven percent of its population, compared to Britain’s rollout to over one in three adults.
Germany has recorded a steep rise in coronavirus cases, with the country’s medical experts warning that it is in the depths of a third wave of infections.
There were 14,456 new Covid cases reported in Germany on Thursday, according to the Robert Koch Institute – a jump of 9,146 new cases compared to the previous day.
Deaths also increased from 300 on Wednesday to 321 today, taking Germany’s total count to more than 2.5 million cases and 72,810 fatalities.
Robert Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute warned: “Europe should be worried.”
Lothar Wieler, the RKI’s president, said Germany was in a “race” to vaccinate its population to prevent further coronavirus-inflicted damage.
He added: “We have very clear indications that the third wave has already started in Germany.
The expert said “restrictions could be lifted” if the country is able to vaccinate 80 percent of German adults by the autumn.
Italy has been forced to announce drastic plans to help ease its hospital crisis as the third wave pushes intensive care wards to breaking point.
It has introduced a hospital train with 21 intensive care beds to transfer patients around the country when hospitals overflow.
The specially-equipped eight-carriage train, with ventilators, oxygen supplies and other equipment, can carry 45 doctors and nurses.
It will be based in Milan in Lombardy, an area already being battered by the country’s third wave of infections.
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Francesco Rocca, head of the Italian Red Cross, said: “The train was conceived a year ago during Italy’s first wave, when patients had to be flown from Italy to Germany – let’s see if we need it again now.”
New daily cases are predicted to hit 40,000 this month as the disease spreads rapidly across the country.
Italy became the seventh country to record 100,000 deaths this week – alongside the US, Brazil, Mexico, India, Russia and Britain.
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France is also being forced to transfer Covid patients as critical cases surge.
It reported 30,303 new infections on Wednesday, rising above 30,000 for the first time in two weeks.
But more worryingly, the number of people being treated in intensive care remained at a three-and-a-half-month high – with 3,918 receiving critical treatment.
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