From the UK and France to Germany, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, new cases of coronavirus have stormed back across Europe even as it spreads with renewed vigour in the US.
Globally, with new infections hitting a record high of more than 400,000 on Friday, the world nearing the 40 million mark for total caseloads and the US crossing 8 million infections, the lethal pandemic has forced a rethink across governments and continents on whether to continue with the new normal and the easing of restrictions.
Even though the virus continues to decline in Latin America and Asia, lockdowns, curfews and partial closure of services and facilities are suddenly everywhere again in Europe — with many cities reimposing tough restrictions that were eased just months ago. The alarming reality is in stark contrast to the scenario after summer, when coronavirus cases were receding across Europe and borders were reopening. A targeted approach and calibrated reopening of facilities to minimise the impact from a possible resurgence was the plan.
The greatest challenge for all such affected governments is therefore to enforce tough regulations to prevent the spread of the virus, crack down on violators and carefully chart the future course of action in tandem with full public cooperation. Their determination to stem this resurgence will not only decide the fate of countless lives, but also the economic destiny of many countries
But neither the approach nor the spread of infections has gone according to that plan in Europe. The rate of infections has spiralled by a massive 44 per cent there on a weekly basis, with the number of new average daily cases hovering around the 130,000 mark. The result is a renewed night curfew for millions of people in Paris, London and other major European cities, throwing lives and many livelihoods out of gear once again.
In the US, most of biggest surges have taken place in the Midwest and Great Plains, where resistance to masks and other precautions has been running high.
Economists and public health experts who were hoping that the second wave would be much easier to control because the authorities already know how to contain clusters of infections and keep the economy running, are now confronted with a deeper sense of crisis. To make matters worse, many local officials and civic agencies have openly clashed with central governments on the way forward.
While the infections continue to surge, renewed lockdowns in major economies around the world is something that the already-crippled global economy simply cannot afford any more.
The greatest challenge for all such affected governments is therefore to enforce tough regulations to prevent the spread of the virus, crack down on violators and carefully chart the future course of action in tandem with full public cooperation. Their determination to stem this resurgence will not only decide the fate of countless lives, but also the economic destiny of many countries.