Corona Card: Covid-19 returns from vacation during the construction industry

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The month of August seems to once again be completely dominated by the corona virus for Europe. The lung virus, which has now infected more people than live in the Netherlands, is still rapidly spreading across the world. Our continent has been relatively quiet for two months, but this now seems to have finally come to an end with the recent increases in the majority of countries.

Two weeks ago, new purple peaks were visible on the map in some areas. Last week the start of the second wave was unmissable and now the pandemic is back. The recent summer increase started in Belgium and Spain, but meanwhile the figures are also increasing towards the signal values ​​in many other countries.

The light colors have not been so rare on the map since May, with the weekly development per 100,000 inhabitants

End of July: no heat wave, but corona wave

Compared to a week earlier, the increases were the most significant in Western Europe in the last week. Belgium in particular seems to be taking another direct hit. The fireplace in the province of Antwerp increased by 83 per 100,000 (1,543 diagnoses), with this the seventh highest weekly increase.

The rest of Belgium is also considerably darker than in the past week. This ‘spot’ transcends national borders. This is clearly visible in the province of South Holland, for example. Here, the number of infections increased by 925, which equates to an increase of 24.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. This accounts for a 35th position in the list of more than 300 parts of Europe. In the Benelux, South Holland is number three on the worrying lists, after Antwerp and Luxembourg. The unwanted summer trend is also visible in the neighboring French and German regions.

However, the Netherlands shows a very different type of distribution than Belgium. Where our southern neighbors show growth across the country, this is not the case in the Netherlands. The country seems divided into a wild west and an orderly east. Drenthe and Friesland are even among the areas with the least new contamination on the entire continent. With less than ten new positive diagnoses in the past week, these two northern provinces are ranked 18 and 22 on the “right” side of the list.

Spain is currently the main cause for concern. The northeast of the country is experiencing an unprecedented rapid increase, with Aragón as the peak. Although this autonomous region is not much larger in terms of population than Utrecht or Overijssel, the number of infections here increased by no less than 2,913. This equates to an astronomical 220.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. Such a high weekly increase has not been observed in Europe since the beginning of this series in early May. The Basque Country, Catalonia and Navarre are also among the regions where the second wave’s fire has burned most.

How did this happen? In the slider below, the weekly card from a month ago has been compared to that of last week. The second slider shows the difference between the past week and the first full week of July.

The dark cloud called corona

The sliders mainly show a virus that has found its way back to Europe. Things have been going fast in the Balkans since the end of June, but this proved to be only the prelude to more. In Romania, things got out of hand in a month. Lisbon and Luxembourg were also very ‘early’ during this peak. The odd one out on these cards is the quirky Sweden that shows a downward trend after dominating the weekly schedule for months.

However, it is not a hit everywhere. Slovakia, Greece and Hungary, which survived the spring most intact, show only modest growth figures. However, here too more corona was detected than was the case in June. In Norway, Germany, Finland, Ireland, the Baltic States and Italy, which was so ravaged in March, there still seems to be little reason for major summer care. Curious about the situation in another region? The database with which the maps were made can be viewed via Google Drive.

The consequences of the corona flare-up for mortality and hospital admissions are fairly difficult to predict because no comparable scenario is available. Because there is indeed more testing across the continent, you can assume that the pandemic will become visible in figures faster. On the other hand, it is not known exactly how many people had corona in February and March.

An increase in hospital admissions and deaths is not yet reflected in the data. However, this is not surprising since this can delay up to four weeks. However, there is nothing wrong at all. This can be seen on the map of Our World in Data in which the number of positive test results is tracked. Despite the greater testing capacity of many countries, there are also increases here.

Belgium, the Czech Republic and Spain are particularly striking, but the share of positive corona tests in the Netherlands has also risen from 0.5% to 1% in the past three weeks.

Exponential unpredictability

In most countries, Europe still scores below the worrying limit values ​​of the WHO. They state that there is enough testing in a country if less than 10 percent is positive. Then we are doing pretty well in Europe! A few countries exceed the signal value of 3 percent, but in terms of test capacity it is generally a mustache. Still, the biggest surprise this spring was the exponential compartment of the pandemic.

The insidious thing about exponential growth is that for a long time it seems little and then almost overload the IC capacity within a few days. Is there any current increase in exponential growth? That seems to be the case if you compare a number of European countries on a logarithmic scale with the increases between 1 July and 2 August using the same World in Data dataset.

Brazil and the US have been added for context, where there has never really been a summer break. If a line is at an angle of 90 degrees on a logarithmic scale, then there is exponential rise.

Flatten the curve (alweer)

Based on progressive averages, the Netherlands will rise in seven days even faster than the “corona leaders” Spain and Belgium. Is this increase entirely ‘due to’ the upscaling of the GGD’s test capacity, or is this a worrying development? In any case partly, but how big this part is, remains guesswork.

However, if this trend is not halted, the burden of care and the number of deaths in August will certainly increase. Covid-19 has a mortality believed to be much less than 1 percent. This is both a curse and a blessing. After all, half a percent of a million people are still 5,000 dead. This law of large numbers is sometimes overlooked.

How can a new scenario like this one be prevented this spring? The biggest factor of influence is the behavior of the population. After all, a government can introduce all kinds of restrictions, but if virus-mad residents give out massive group hugs to each other on the Malieveld or in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the corona virus will in theory have the opportunity to provide a very macabre late summer. And since a virus needs human contact to spread, a social chain is only as strong as its most lax weak link.

And there is still a considerable threat that reminds us of spring. This month many people return from their ‘well-deserved’ summer holiday abroad. Does this feel like a déjà-vu? That could be right. After all, many holidaymakers returned in February from their well-deserved winter sports trip.

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