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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Europe braces an influx of COVID cases

By Jorden Demerritte
Staff Writer

COVID-19 cases in Europe are beginning to surge again, and many countries are reentering lockdowns and placing strict restrictions on movement and businesses.

Numbers began trending upwards at the beginning of September. By the end of October, officials were reporting up to 300,000 cases per day, with a death toll of around 3,000 to 4,000 deaths. 

This makes the total confirmed cases in Europe as of November 23, 2020 16,430,712, with the most cases being reported from France, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The total confirmed deaths are up to 371,419, with the most deaths being reported from the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, and Russia.

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France deals with its highest daily case numbers, and promptly reacted with a strict lockdown, closing non-essential businesses and limiting movement outside the house to grocery shopping and work. 

Italy reported a total of plus 1.4 million COVID cases, and on November 22 28,337 new cases. The deaths in Italy, on November 22, were reported to be 562 people. This reflects a 79% increase of deaths over the span of 14 days.

Germany is back under complete lockdown until the end of November.

“Bars are open up till 11 [P.M.], but as of November, restaurants, bars, [and] cafes [are temporarily closed],” Charlene Batlle, a resident of Berlin, Germany said. The German government has also closed other venues, including recreation and ‘entertainment centers,’ which include theaters, concert halls, and casinos. 

The main businesses remaining open are malls, hair salons, schools, and houses of worship. Restrictions remain in place for religious services, as they “are allowed to continue, but they have to provide people with a minimum of  distance from others,” Batlle said.

In Berlin, Germany, the lockdown has had a share of rule breakers: “I think people are not responsible enough, I mean, Germans are usually very disciplined people, but I think here in Berlin, it’s a very cosmopolitan city, and there’s people from all around the world. We’re not being cautious,” Batlle said.

Many share sentiments that Germany overall is “doing good with their policy making,” however major areas of improvement are “high-transmission places,” especially restaurants and schools. Batlle goes on to say that she and many others support a penalty fee for violators in high-density places like Berlin. 

The German economy is also struggling, as their large manufacturing companies have closed due to the absence of demand.

“When you have a pandemic like this, it brings the global economy to its knees, not just Germany, but in general and this shock affects people not just physically, but also mentally,” Batlle said.

Charlene Batlle took the picture in Gemäldegalerie, an art museum in Berlin, Germany during COVID restrictions. (Photo courtesy of Charlene Batlle)

Sweden has had to grapple with rising infections due to their lax precautions earlier in the year, when they chose not to issue a nationwide lockdown. Per capita death rates in Sweden are higher than adjacent countries, and some restrictions are beginning to be introduced in an effort to combat rising numbers. 

The United Kingdom is reentering a four-week lockdown where its citizens are to stay home unless going out to care for the vulnerable or to get groceries. Schools remain open in the country. 

Wales, specifically, has a new set of terms and COVID-19 restrictions called the “firebreak,” which ended on the ninth of November. The course of regulations spanned over, restaurants, and all non-essenial areas, such as beauticians, libraries, community centers,  were shut down, with people being required to stay at home. . Supermarkets were restricted from selling non-essential items and places of worship remained closed, except for funerals and weddings. Outdoor areas, like local parks, playgrounds, outdoor gymsand childcare facilities, remained open, however.

Since the start of the outbreak, Scotland has confirmed that out of the 1,138,326 people tested, 89,310 have tested positive. Reports up until November 22, report that there have been 949 newly reported positive cases and 0 (COVID-confirmed) deaths.

The government of Scotland organizes their restrictions based on the parameters of tiers. The regulations listed on their website cover precautions when meeting others indoors, meeting others outdoors, for shared parenting, and other specific areas of high-risk encounters.

Skye Hervas-Jones, a student at the University of St. Andrews, lives in a flat with 4 other people. 

At St. Andrews, specifically, they “don’t have any in-person lectures,” but “in-person tutorials, which are under 9 people normally” with usual COVID restrictions are allowed. A feature that St. Andrews has is called “track-and-trace” and “you scan a barcode and you put you name, phone number, and it tracks you werever you go, and you get a notification of anyone you come in contact with that has had coronavirus,” Hervas-Jones said. 

New influxes seem to be the primary spreader, and “[It] is definitely the students that are spreading it, and like people traveling to Edinburough which is a nearby town… and [an effect from] the close proximity when you are in a dorm,” Hervas-Jones said. “New positive cases since the first of September has only been like 86 students.” 

The future for students at St. Andrews is up in the air, especially as there is a new restriction that’s limiting travel.

“With upcoming Christmas, they’re tring to stop travel in Scotland…” Hervas-Jones said. She elaborates that plans are altered and the principal issued out emails to all the students, recommending that they quarantine for 2 weeks prior and post travel, meaning they should quarantine for 2 weeks in St. Andrews, and then quarantine for 2 weeks away from their family.

With these Christmas recommendations it puts students in a difficult situation as “they’ll only have a few weeks to see their family and so it’ll be quite expensive,” Hervas-Jones said. 

Belgium, which has dealt with a high case load in the past months, enforces COVID restrictions and precautions with police. The punishment for not following government mandated regulations is a stiff fine, issued by police officers who patrol the streets to look for those not following the law. While the tolerance towards rule-breakers is low, the homeless are given leniency to ensure they are not stuck with a fine they cannot pay.

Belgium has also struggled to keep intensive-care beds available. Oftentimes, patients are transported across the country to hospitals that have the space, staff, or resources.

In many European countries, COVID cases are a persistent issue as the duration extends without the recuperation of the economy or healthcare systems. What more is that the contracted COVID cases may not be reported, disfiguring both the expectation of progress and potential improvements that can come out of the healthcare system.

Under these circumstances, transparency and promptness of both the government and its citizens are required to ensure death rates and the spread of this highly contagious disease are diminished.

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Europe braces an influx of COVID cases