Europe’s coronavirus infections are still “in check” authorites say, weeks after European governments began lifting coronavirus-related lockdowns, defying some experts’ expectations about the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
Bloomberg reports that European officials are “closely monitoring coronavirus data” for signs of a second wave of infections, but so far, countries like Germany, France, and Italy are still seeing decreases in the number of COVID-19 infections and COVID-19 deaths.
That’s good news for many U.S. residents and American virus experts who feared a second “peak” in coronavirus infections after states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas loosened lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders. So far, those three states have seen either a steady number of infections or a slight downward trend in positive coronavirus tests, indicating that “reopening” may not be as dangerous as many believed — at least, with the right restrictions and continued anti-viral measures in place.
According to Bloomberg, France, which once had more than 15,000 cases of coronavirus at its peak, now sees fewer than 100, weeks after lockdowns began to lift in early May.
Italy began lifting its lockdowns on May 4th, after cases of COVID-19 appeared to be on a downward trend from that country’s peak on April 15th. So far, the number of cases have remained on a downard trajectory, and Italy saw its first sub-500 case day on Tuesday, May 19th. Italy is now almost fully reopened; on Monday, “with distancing rules,” “shops, bars, and restaurants were allowed to reopen,” per Bloomberg.
In Spain, cases have been steady at a few dozen, and that trend has continued since the country opened on May 10th.
Now, European officials have shifted their focus to Sweden, where cases remain on the rise, but where the government took few measures to lock down public areas, choosing instead to allow Swedish citizens to follow social distancing guidelines and take personal protective measures, in pursuit of herd immunity to the virus.
Sweden has suffered markedly from that decision, but not as markedly as others. “Sweden still has fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France, which have all opted for lockdowns, but much higher than Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland,” US News and World Report says.
Economically, they’re better off than their European neighbors: “Sweden’s open strategy seems to have softened the blow on the economy, with growth shrinking much less than in Denmark and Norway in the first quarter.”
The United States did reach a milestone Wednesday, with all 50 states now releasing some of their lockdown restrictions, with Connecticut being the final state to lift its stay-at-home order, partially, at midnight on May 20th. Some states are still struggling with high infection numbers, but most now believe infections are on a downard trend and that hospital beds and ventilators will be available for those who continued to be affected by novel coronavirus.