Europe enters public health emergency amid coronavirus’ second wave | COVID-19 Special

The second wave is crashing over Europe, and intensive care capacity is close to breaking point. Germany could hit its limit next month, France and Switzerland might crack by mid-month. A week ago, half of French intensive care beds were occupied. Now, 70 percent are occupied, with more than 3,500 coronavirus patients. When President Emmanuel Macron announced a second national lockdown last week — something he and other European leaders had sought mightily to avoid — he warned that “at this stage, we know that whatever we do, nearly 9,000 patients will be in intensive care by mid-November, which is almost the entirety of French capacities.” In Belgium the situation is even worse. The country could overrun capacity this week or next. Belgium, which had doubled its intensive care capacity, is now preparing for decisions about which needy patient should get a bed. The incidence of coronavirus cases there is the highest in Europe, at 3,956 per 100,000 people. What seemed like huge investments to expand hospital capacity now look totally inadequate. Warning bells should have been ringing in early July, after the spring lockdowns were eased. But only a few recognised the vibrations that heralded a tsunami of new cases.
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