Belgium fears bed shortage within two weeks: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Updated 03:02, 27-Oct-2020
Aden-Jay Wood


- UK health minister Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the prospect of a further tier of measures in England's pandemic restrictions system.

- Belgium could run out of intensive care beds within the next two weeks if cases continue to surge at the current rate, Yves Van Laethem, the country's health ministry spokesman said. 

- Switzerland's health minister has admitted its new restrictions, expected to be announced later this week, "will likely last a long time."

- Germany is on the verge of losing control of its fight against the virus, according to its chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned of "very, very difficult months ahead." Merkel has brought forward a meeting with the country's 16 states to discuss additional restrictions. 

- Slovakia's mass testing, a pilot for a future nationwide scheme, attracted tens of thousands of people over the weekend and showed an infection rate of 3.87 percent, government data showed. 

- A COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford is producing a similar immune response in older and younger adults, and adverse reactions were lower in older adults, according to British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

- Germany's Robert Koch Institute, the government's public health advice body, has been attacked by several assailants who threw bottles at its building. 

- France's daily case rises are in the region of 100,000 per day according to Jean-Francois Delfraissy, the head of the scientific council that advises the government. 

- UK pharmacy company Boots is to launch a new testing service that can return swab test results in 12 minutes.

- The World Health Organization has warned against vaccine nationalism, which it says could hinder efforts to make the vaccine effective across the world.

- Czechia's government will almost certainly have to implement stricter measures because the current measures "aren't working yet" according to prime minister Andrej Babis.





Ross Cullen in Paris

France broke another national record on Sunday with the highest number of new daily infections: 52,010 new cases of COVID-19 were registered. Added to Saturday's statistics, it means that there were nearly 100,000 new cases in 48 hours, a fact which led a professor from one of the country's biggest hospitals to tell French breakfast media on Monday that "we lost control of the epidemic several weeks ago." 

The head of the country's scientific council says that the country is now in a "critical" situation. Jean-Francois Delfraissy warned that "the second wave will likely be stronger than the first wave." Worryingly, 67 percent of intensive care beds in the Paris capital region are now occupied by coronavirus patients. 


Stefan de Vries in Amsterdam

Mayors in border regions are urging their citizens not to go for dinner in neighboring Germany. As part of a partial lockdown, restaurants in the Netherlands are closed till at least November 11. 

More and more people are taking day trips to Germany, where restaurants and cafés are still open. Infections on both sides of the border are rapidly increasing. On Saturday and Sunday, there were on average 9,437 new Dutch infections per day, slightly down on the previous days. 

However, it is still too early to say whether the partial lockdown that came into effect on October 14 has had any influence on the spread of the virus. 

The Dutch government said it needed a few more days to evaluate its impact. If there is no significant improvement in the situation, options may include a curfew or a total lockdown.


France's daily case rises are in the region of 100,000 per day, according to the head of the scientific council that advises the government. /AP

France's daily case rises are in the region of 100,000 per day, according to the head of the scientific council that advises the government. /AP


Alex Fraser in Milan

On Monday, Italy introduces the strictest level of restrictions since March's national lockdown. Bars and restaurants must shut by 6 p.m. nightly. Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas will be closed at all times. All but essential travel has been discouraged for citizens.

The move from the government comes after Italy passed 21,000 new infections per day on Sunday.

Last week an evening regional curfew was introduced in the areas with the highest case numbers, at the weekend those curfews were marked by two tense evenings of protests in Naples and Rome.

On Italian television, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that Italy will suffer this month under the restrictions but hopes the country will bring the virus under control ahead of Christmas.


Andrew Wilson in the UK

The government's refusal to sanction free school meals during the October half-term will dominate Westminster after 800,000 people signed a petition and a string of Tory MPs pushed back against the Downing Street position. Ministers will meet today to discuss a way forward.

The Welsh government is expected to modify its ruling banning the purchase of non-essential items in certain shops. After a weekend of blocked-off sections in supermarkets, public reaction has been angry. Under Friday's firebreak lockdown, non-essential retail including clothes shops, furniture stores and car dealerships had to close.

Government officials are urging caution after newspaper reports that a vaccine would be rolled out to NHS staff within weeks. One newspaper reports today that hospitals are on standby for stocks to arrive. But official reports insist that no vaccine has, as yet, completed its trial process.


When we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively
 -  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization

Toni Waterman in Brussels

Brussels has introduced the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in Belgium, as the capital region struggles to contain a surge in new infections. 

As of Monday, masks are mandatory at all times, a curfew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. is in place, federal inspectors will enforce a work-from-home rule, all cultural and sporting facilities have been closed and all shops must shut their doors by 8 p.m. every night. The new measures are in place until November 19.

Brussels has one of the highest infection rates in the country, with some neighborhoods reporting more than 2,200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. That compares with the national average of 1,288 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.


Rahul Pathak in Madrid

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez says he will seek permission to have the new state of emergency in place until May 2021.  

On Sunday he announced the measure following a meeting with his cabinet, at which they agreed to an initial 15-day time period for the decree.   

The prime minister will now seek approval from parliament's lower house for an extension until May. However Sanchez did say that if conditions allowed, the measures could be lifted earlier than anticipated.  

Spain currently has a contagion rate of 400 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. The PM said the main objective of the new measures would be to get that number down to 25 cases per 100,000 – and that limiting people's mobility and personal contacts was the best way to do that.


Belgium could run out of Intensive care beds within the next two weeks if cases continue to surge at the current rate. /AP

Belgium could run out of Intensive care beds within the next two weeks if cases continue to surge at the current rate. /AP



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