As France, roughly a fifth the size of the United States, logged a whopping 52,010 new coronavirus infections overnight Monday, a government adviser said the astonishing case numbers could easily double.
“We estimate, on the scientific committee, that we are more in the region of 100,000 cases per day” Prof. Jean-François Delfraissy—a sort of French Dr. Anthony Fauci—told RTL radio on Monday. “There is probably far more than 50,000 cases per day.”
The high number of new infections comes as France extends its 9 p.m. curfew to more cities, affecting 46 million of the country’s 66 million citizens, to try to get a handle on the spread of the coronavirus amid concerns that ICU wards are filling up fast. In Paris, 64 percent of ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, and authorities warn that things could soon be out of control.
Things are also worsening in Spain, where Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is asking parliament to extend the state of emergency, which makes it easier to impose restrictions, until May 9. Spain, like France, topped a total of 1 million COVID-19 infections late last week as the death tolls in both countries continue to rise.
In Italy, the original European epicenter of the pandemic last March, a second wave is also fully underway with the number of new cases topping 20,000 on Sunday, hours after the prime minister announced what amounts to a light lockdown, with all bars, restaurants, and cafes now closed at 6 p.m. and gyms, cinemas, and concert halls completely shuttered until at least Nov. 24. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, in making the announcement Sunday, said the country had to “endure pain now” for a “serene Christmas.”
The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention warns in its latest report that the situation was only worsening, with 28 countries now reporting exponential growth in cases and the total ICU capacity across Europe now at around 25 percent of what it was at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.