The French are looking at another nine months of fighting the coronavirus if their president’s prediction comes true — and leaders all across Europe have their guard up, ready to impose lockdowns again to stymie the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.
President Emmanuel Macron delivered his grim forecast after France marked a million cases Wednesday. Spain passed the milestone, too. Russia, Poland, Italy and Switzerland all hit new highs as well.
Europe now has had almost 8 million confirmed cases and roughly 250,000 deaths, the BBC reported. Daily infections have more than doubled in the past 10 days. In the US, cases total about 8.6 million and the death toll stands at about 224,000. Worldwide, there have been more than 42 million cases and 1.1 million deaths, World Health Organization numbers show.
Macron’s prognosis came from scientists who believe the infection will be present “at best until next summer,” the president told reporters during a visit to a Paris hospital. Right now, COVID-19 patients fill nearly half of France’s 5,000 intensive care beds.
Macron hasn’t determined whether to impose a new lockdown, but is extending an overnight curfew for two weeks on two-thirds of the country — about 46 million residents.
In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez put the “real number” of cases at more than 3 million, not the official 1 million. He advised Spaniards to practice “social discipline” but stopped short of imposing any new nationwide measures to prevent the infection from spreading.
The La Rioja region has been closed for 15 days; Madrid ended a two-week lockdown Saturday but immediately imposed an overnight curfew and cut capacity in bars to half. The regions of Castilla y León, Valencia and Andalucía all have curfews of some sort.
Elsewhere around the globe:
Poland is in a lockdown that includes partial closure of schools and restaurants, and President Andrzej Duda, 48, has tested positive but is feeling well.
Italy saw hundreds take to the streets in Naples to protest restrictions, throwing smoke bombs and projectiles at police.
Switzerland is considering tighter restrictions after recording a daily record of 6,634 new cases Saturday.
Russia set a new daily record of 17,340 coronavirus cases.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is demanding the resignation of Health Minister Roman Prymula, who went mask-less to a restaurant that was defying a lockdown order.
Germany is seeing an uptick in the rate of transmission, recording 11,424 new cases in the past 24 hours.
The Netherlands is sending patients to Germany to ease the stress on its hospitals.
Portugal imposed a lockdown on three areas where 150,000 people live and will impose a nationwide lockdown for a national holiday next weekend.
Greece has declared a night curfew in Athens and other areas.