Europe's week: Leaders face tough decisions amid second wave of COVID-19

Europe's week: Leaders face tough decisions amid second wave of COVID-19
Copyright OLIVIER HOSLET/AFP or licensors
Copyright OLIVIER HOSLET/AFP or licensors
By Stefan Grobe
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This week EU leaders grappled with tough decisions on re-introducing restrictive measures amid an uptick in infections. Meanwhile, African countries appear to have been largely spared the mass outbreak seen in the EU.


Over the past week, European leaders have passed stricter measures amid a second wave of COVID-19 that is evolving quickly throughout several countries.

Daily infection numbers have reached levels not seen since the height of the crisis in spring and hospitals are facing an increasing number of patients in intensive care.

Several European leaders announced new restrictions on their populations including a partial lockdown in the Netherlands, a curfew in France, and a partial lockdown in the Czech Republic.

"We will have a partial lockdown. To get the virus under control, the number of social contacts and travels must be drastically reduced," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

French President Emmanuel Macron emphasised the importance of reducing "private contacts" in defence of issuing a curfew in nine metropolitan areas.

"In this decisive and critical phase of Autumn, it is very, very important that everyone continues to play along," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she announced new restrictions.

Leaders are keen to avoid full lockdowns given the stark economic consequences.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to take a toll on political life. Two EU leaders had to leave the summit early after being in contact with someone who had tested positive.

EU-African Union summit postponed even as Africa fares better from virus

Meanwhile, the EU-African Union summit was postponed from the end of October due to the pandemic. But conclusions from the summit reaffirmed the EU's commitment to its partnership with Africa.

The socialist group in the European Parliament, meanwhile, went ahead with their EU-Africa Partnership Week.

The bloc aims to see Africa become an equal partner in terms of trade and common values.

It comes as many African countries fare much better in terms of the global pandemic.

Dr Ngoy Nsenga, programme manager for emergency response at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, joined us from Brazzaville this week to talk about the situation in African countries.

All 47 countries have been affected, this week, Dr Nsenga said they counted 1.2 million people affected in the region.

"We have what we call the top ten, among them, is South Africa. South Africa has reported the highest number of cases in our region, and as lately has reported up to 60 per cent of cases on a daily basis. But we have also Algeria, Ethiopia and Kenya among them."

At the beginning of the pandemic, experts imagined millions of deaths and serious infections and the collapse of already shaky health care systems. Yet, half a year later, this scenario has not materialised.

So why hasn't the virus hit Africa as hard as expected?

"Everyone, including ourselves, were very worried at the beginning of the pandemic," admits Dr Nsenga.


He thinks that like any other outbreak there are many factors which contributed to this. Many African countries took the decision at the right time according to Nsenga.

"Most of them actually took the preventive measures and social measures when they didn't even have cases, yet. Some of them took the decision when they had few cases."

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