The swift rate at which the number of registered COVID-19 cases is soaring in the UK and the death toll from the respiratory disease in the country is “frightening” other EU states, Rudolf Anschober, Austria’s health minister said at a press conference on 16 April.
As he praised Austria’s success in slowing the epidemic, armed with a set of graphs, the minister sought to lay out his concerns that new cases in Britain were spiraling “head and shoulders above other nations”, writes the Daily Mail.
The minister gave a comparison between the COVID-19 situation in the UK and in Austria, presenting a chart that displayed average daily growth in coronavirus infections over a span of ten days.
While the equivalent figure for Austria was 1.8 per cent, according to the chart shown by Anschober, the UK daily growth number was glaringly more significant.
“That's what's frightening a lot of people on a European level at the moment, that's the figure in Britain of 7.5 per cent,” he said.
The graphs cited by the minister showed the figures for Sweden at 5.7 per cent, 3.7 per cent in France, 3.2 per cent in Spain, 3.0 per cent in Germany, 2.5 per cent in Italy and 2.2 per cent in Switzerland.
‘Antidote to Optimism’
Rudolf Anschober’s concerns about the coronavirus rates in the UK were echoed by Dr Hans Kluge, World Health Organisation director for Europe.
Speaking during the virtual weekly WHO Europe briefing on Thursday, the official warned that while a number of countries that were previously COVID-19 hotspots, such as Italy and Spain, are starting to register a slowing down in the spread of the disease, the “optimistic signs” observed there do not signify that Europe is out of the woods yet.
“Of the 10 countries in the region with the highest numbers of cases, there have been optimistic signs in terms of the climbing numbers in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland in recent weeks. But small positive signals in some countries are tempered by sustained or increased levels of incidents in other countries, including in the UK, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.”
Kluge said positive coronavirus cases reported in Europe “nearly doubled in 10 days” to reach nearly one million, accounting for around half of all global cases, as he emphasized the following weeks would be critical for Europe.
“Make no mistake - despite the spring weather, we are in the middle of a storm,” said the official.
Currently, the UK death toll from COVID-19 stands at 13,729, following a further 861 deaths recorded during 24 hours, the Department of Health reported on Thursday, in a daily increase after a rise of 761 on Wednesday and 778 on Tuesday.
The latest figures show that the UK has 104, 155 registered cases of the virus according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with 13, 700 deaths from the respiratory disease.
On Thursday, First Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, currently recovering from the coronavirus infection, announced that the country was extending its restrictions on public life, in place since 23 March, by at least another three weeks.
The government’s decision followed a meeting with scientists earlier in the day, with Raab acknowledging the rate of COVID-19 infections has not slowed enough to justify lifting the shutdown.
“Any change to our social-distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus. That would threaten a second peak of the virus and substantially increase the number of deaths,” said Raab said at the government’s daily press conference.