In recent days, Europe has become the “storm centre” of the epidemic. Last week, the continent recorded a higher number of new cases compared with other continents, with nearly 1.9 million cases, up 15% from a week earlier, and a 10% rise of deaths. Germany, Greece and Slovakia are experiencing the highest number of cases to date; meanwhile, Russia, Bulgaria and Ukraine reported the most deaths by COVID-19 since its first outbreak.
Facing the above situation, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control labelled it a “very worrying” situation in the 10 European Union members, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Eastern European countries. With the “winter wave” of COVID-19, the countries are seeking adaptable solutions, with a range of stronger anti-epidemic measures. For example, Austria reimposed a full COVID-19 lockdown, the Netherlands imposed a partial lockdown, and France postponed the easing of epidemic prevention measures.
The fourth wave of pandemic not only has increased the number of infections and deaths but also threatens to destroy the economic recovery plans of many European countries, even pushing more businesses into stagnation. In Germany, the Europe’s leading economy, experts are worried about a "wave of bankruptcy" due to COVID-19 in the near future. The German press said that in the context of many states re-imposing restrictions, even partial blockades to limit the rate of infections, many retailers have to prepare for the worst “scenarios” as their business gets increasingly tough. In the Free State of Bavaria, after the administrations announced a blockade, most retail stores were forced to temporarily close. The situation in many other states is not brighter either. This fact makes many retail businesses fear that they will not survive and they are forced to file for bankruptcy.
In that context, European health experts and officials have recommended that the governments and people should enhance vaccination against COVID-19 to improve the situation. The Austrian government has announced its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its entire adult population which will come into effect from February 2022, stressing that raising the vaccination rate is “the only way to break this vicious circle”. Germany is increasing pressure on unvaccinated citizens by announcing plans to restrict many leisure activities for them around the country.
The gloomy situation in Europe will be a warning to all countries around the world that are implementing the “living with COVID-19” strategy. If the reopening of the economy is not conducted in parallel with the “vaccination coverage” and strict anti-epidemic measures, many countries cannot avoid the worries like Europe today.