While many European countries have seen declines in new daily coronavirus cases, Spain, France and Portugal after relaxing crackdowns in December are fighting off a new surge of infections that have leaders mulling over new lockdowns and stricter restrictions to keep cases at bay.
- On Monday, France reported its highest level in two months of average new weekly cases, registering 20,447, as new hospitalizations also spiked.
- France just relaxed its second lockdown on December 15, but French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with health authorities Tuesday to determine if the country will move forward with a third lockdown, according to France 24.
- Spain reported a record of 93,822 new infections over Saturday and Sunday, enough to push the number of new cases detected over the past two weeks to 885 cases per 100,000, a steep rise from the 829 per 100,000 counted Friday.
- The Spanish government has resisted calls to order another national lockdown after easing restrictions in December, despite the toll new infections and hospitalizations have taken on the country's strained healthcare system.
- Last week, Portugal’s coronavirus surge had pushed the country to become the nation with the world’s highest weekly average rate of new infections, according to Johns Hopkins University, as deaths and hospitalizations also spiked.
- Portugal ordered a country-wide lockdown in mid-January to combat a surge of new daily infections that began in December, just days after Christmas, when the government allowed restrictions to be relaxed for four days.
Unlike other countries across Europe, Spain, Portugal and France relaxed their coronavirus crackdowns in December for Christmas, which experts suggest lent itself to the surge in new cases. The spread of the U.K. coronavirus variant may have also contributed to the increase in infections, as the mutation is believed to be more contagious. Recent research suggests it may also be more deadly, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week. Nearly 200 cases of the new coronavirus strain have been detected in at least 22 U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is projected to make up the majority of new infections in the country by March, former FDA head Scott Gottlieb said earlier this month.