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Europe is on the verge of collapsing due to a virus outbreak caused by infectious variants.



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Europe is on the verge of collapsing due to a virus outbreak caused by infectious variants.


The virus spread quickly through a nursery school and an adjacent elementary school in Bollate, a Milan suburb. 45 children and 14 staff members had tested positive in just a few days.

The highly infectious coronavirus variant first detected in England was speeding through the community, a densely packed city of nearly 40,000 people with a chemical plant and a Pirelli bicycle tire factory a 15-minute drive from the heart of Milan, according to genetic analysis.

“This shows that the virus has some intellect… We can put up all the barriers in the world and pretend that they function, but it adapts and penetrates them in the end,” lamented Bollate Mayor Francesco Vassallo.

Bollate was the first city in Lombardy, the northern region that has been the epicenter of each of Italy’s three surges, to be cut off from the rest of the country due to virus variants that the WHO says are fueling a new wave of infections across Europe. Versions first discovered in South Africa and Brazil are among the variants.

According to WHO, 1 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in Europe last week, up 9% from the previous week and reversing a six-week decrease in new infections.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, explained that “the spread of variants is driving the rise, but not only,” citing “also the opening of society, when it is not done in a healthy and regulated manner.”

The version, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, is now widespread in 27 European countries under WHO surveillance and is dominant in at least ten of them: the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain, and Portugal.

It is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that resurfaced last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at eluding previously successful controls, according to WHO experts. It is also more lethal, according to scientists.

Kluge explained, “That is why health systems are suffering more now.” “We’ve reached a critical juncture. We must defend the fort and remain vigilant.”

Intensive care wards are once again filling up in Lombardy, which bore the brunt of Italy’s spring surge, with more than two-thirds of new positive tests being the UK variant, according to health officials.

Lombardy’s regional governor declared tightened restrictions Friday, closing all schools for all ages, after placing two provinces and 50 towns on a changed lockdown. According to the provincial health system’s leader, cases in Milan schools alone increased by 33% in a week.

The situation is critical in the Czech Republic, where nearly 8,500 patients have been admitted to hospitals with COVID-19, a new high. Since the U.K. version has increased from 10% of all infections in February to 25% now, Poland is opening temporary hospitals and implementing a partial lockdown.

Two patients from Slovakia’s hard-hit country were due to arrive in Germany on Saturday for treatment, with officials stating that they had offered to take in ten patients.

Kluge pointed to the United Kingdom’s history as a source of hope, noting that widespread controls and the implementation of the vaccine have helped to keep variants in check there and in Israel. In contrast, the vaccine rollout in the European Union is lagging badly, owing to supply issues.

The appearance of the more transmissible strain in the United Kingdom sent cases soaring in December, prompting a national lockdown in January. Cases have dropped dramatically since early January, from about 60,000 a day to around 7,000 per day now.

Despite this, a report shows that the rate of decline is decreasing, and the British government says it will proceed with caution in easing the lockdown. With the reopening of schools on Monday, this process will begin. Infection rates are highest among those aged 13 to 17, and officials will be watching to see if the return to school results in an increase in infections.

While the British variant is the most common in France, forcing lockdowns in Nice and the northern port of Dunkirk, the South African variant has emerged as the most common in France’s Moselle area, which borders Germany and Luxembourg. It accounts for 55% of the virus circulating in the region.

The U.K. version is now dominant in Austria, according to the country’s health minister. However, the South African strain is causing concern in an Austrian district that stretches from Italy to Germany, with Austrian officials announcing plans to vaccinate the majority of the district’s 84,000 residents in order to stop it from spreading. Austria is also requiring motorists to show negative test results along the Brenner highway, a major north-south route.

The South Africa variant, which has now spread to 26 European countries, is a source of particular concern due to concerns about the efficacy of existing vaccinations against it. In 15 European countries, the Brazilian strain, which appears to be capable of reinfecting citizens, has been discovered.

WHO and its partners are working to improve genetic surveillance so that variants can be tracked across the continent.

The mayor of Bollate has asked the regional governor to vaccinate all 40,000 residents as soon as possible, despite the fact that he expects to be told that vaccine supplies are in short supply.

Since the outbreak a year ago, Bollate has recorded 3,000 positive cases and 134 deaths, the majority of which are among the elderly. It bore the brunt of the revival in November and December, and was caught entirely off balance when the U.K. version arrived, ravaging schoolchildren before wreaking havoc on families at home.

“People are getting tired of the fact that there is no light at the end of the tunnel after a year,” Vassallo said.

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