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Coronavirus: Where are infection rates surging in Europe?

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A health worker takes swab samples from a tourist at Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria, which is the only land border into Greece that is open on Monday, July 6, 2020.
A health worker takes swab samples from a tourist at Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria, which is the only land border into Greece that is open on Monday, July 6, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos
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Sweden, Portugal and Bulgaria have some of the highest rates of new COVID-19 infections in the European Union, the latest data show.

According to data released on Saturday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), four EU member states currently have a crude incidence rate of over 40 cases per 100,000 population.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has the highest with an average of 136.5 cases per 100,000 population reported over the previous 14 days.

But the tiny, landlocked state has reported just one COVID-19 death over the past fortnight. Its 14-day cumulative number of deaths related to the virus per 100,000 thus stands at just 0.2.

In contrast, Sweden had less than half the rate of infections — 57.3 per 100,000 population — but the highest rate of cumulative deaths in the bloc at 1.9.

Over the past 14 days, Stockholm has reported 6,642 new infections and 208 deaths. Since the beginning of the outbreak in March the country has recorded more than 77,280 cases and 5,619 fatalities.

Sweden had drawn criticism from other member states for bucking the trend and not imposing strict lockdown measures in order to stem the spread of the virus with most schools and businesses, including bars and restaurants, allowed to remain open throughout the health crisis.

Late last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) included Sweden in a list of 11 European countries going through a "very significant resurgence" of the virus, which the country strongly objected to.

Chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell argued at the time that the increased number of cases was due to more testing and that the number of patients in intensive care was declining.

After Sweden, Portugal and Bulgaria have the bloc's highest 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 at 0.8.

Over the previous fortnight, authorities in Sofia have reported 65 COVID-19 fatalities, accounting for more than 20 per cent of the country's total death toll of 297.

The number of infections rose by 3,127 — representing 37 per cent of the overall number of infections observed in Bulgaria since the beginning of the outbreak (8,442). This brought the infection rate for the past two weeks to 42.1.

Meanwhile, in Portugal, the 14-day infection rate is now at 47.9 with nearly 5,300 new cases reported in that period. An additional 95 people have also lost their lives to the virus.

In total, 1,682 deaths and 48,077 cases have been recorded.

The Portuguese government took fast, drastic measures at the beginning of the health crisis which allowed the country to avoid the fate of neighbour Spain, where the virus claimed 28,420 lives.

Parts of the capital, Lisbon, were locked down again on July 1 because of a surge in cases with residents only allowed out to buy essential goods such as food and medicine. gatherings of more than five people also remain prohibited in these areas.