Europe Struggling To Cope With Massive Second Waves Of Covid-19 Cases

Europe is in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that’s worrying many experts who believe this could be much worse than the first round. The continent now accounts for 46% of global coronavirus cases, and nearly a third of total deaths related to the virus. 

Both France and Spain have issued states of emergency within the past month as a means of easing the pressure on their intensive care units. In France, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, more than half of all ICU beds are currently being occupied by Covid-19 patients. 

Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy is a senior French physician and the president of the scientific council that has been reporting to the government every week in regards to the pandemic. Delfraissy recently spoke with the press and warned of how intense this pandemic is actually getting for the country, and continent as a whole. 

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“France has lost control of the epidemic, there’s been more than 52,000 new cases reported this week but the council estimates that the true figure could well be closer to 100,000 daily cases, accounting for asymptomatic cases and those who haven’t been tested.”

Currently European countries are testing their citizens for the virus at rates much faster than the first wave back in the spring. New data from the UK also suggests that the antibodies present in individuals who have had Covid-19, that work to protect them from a potential second infection, begin to disappear after a couple of months, leaving all previous patients just as vulnerable as they were to start. 

European countries are also extremely popular tourist destinations, and during the summer Europe relies heavily on their tourism industry for keeping their economy afloat. This dependency caused some countries in Europe to relax their travel restrictions and reopen some of their borders domestically, and to nearby countries, after several months in lockdown. 

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This reopening, however, has unsurprisingly led to a lot of spikes in Covid-19 cases due to an overall sense of relaxation in terms of the virus.  The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported that “the median age of people infected declined from 54 during the period of January to May, down to 39 in June and July.” 

When September came around many experts worried about reopening schools and universities and they soon realized their worries were valid as almost a third of new coronavirus cases in Europe within the past two months were related to school re-openings. The number of individuals aged 65 and older who are currently suffering from Covid in France is six times as high as the number of infections in that demographic in September; there are also  five times as many hospitalizations. 

Italy is currently reporting 20,000 cases a day, and a rate of deaths that they haven’t seen since May. Across the continent all bars and restaurants are too close by 6 p.m. and all gyms, swimming pools, and movie theaters have been closed indefinitely. The biggest concern at the moment is the growing pressure Europe’s hospitals will face as cases continue to rise. 

The rate of Covid-related deaths in Europe has luckily declined greatly from where it was in the first wave of the pandemic, which shows that the country has a better grasp on treating the virus, however, the growing number of cases is still a major concern. Covid-19 cases are projected to hit record peaks across the whole globe this winter, so new procedures will likely be put into play in the coming weeks.

China’s Economy Shows Steady Recovery As Pandemic Is Brought Under Control

China reported a 4.9% economic growth in its third quarter, making it the only major global economy in the world to show an economic increase during a worldwide pandemic.

Qingdao China Coronavirus

City Of Qingdao, China To Test All Nine Million Residents For Covid-19 In The Next 5 Days

Over a period of five days, authorities in the Chinese city of Qingdao will test all nine million of its residents for Covid-19 after it was discovered that a dozen individuals were positive for the virus in a hospital that was treating coronavirus patients arriving internationally. 

While this may seem like a daunting task, back in May China was able to test the entire city of Wuhan, the initial epicenter for Covid-19, for the virus. Wihan is home to over 11 million residents for context. Overall, China has been one of the only countries to get the virus completely under control. 

Compared to other parts of the world, China has remained diligent and strict with their health and safety measures ever since the virus first emerged there in March. Qingdao’s Municipal Health Commission posted a statement to Chinese social media site Weibo this past weekend, claiming that six new cases and six new asymptomatic cases had been discovered.

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All of the cases were directly linked to the same hospital, which will make it easier for Chinese authorities to trace. While this new cluster of cases may not seem that severe, the country as a whole has a strategy of mass testing in any event of new coronavirus clusters, no matter how minor; a stark difference with how America is handling the virus, which is currently infecting 50,000 Americans every day

The National Health Commission claimed on Monday that the “whole city will be tested within five days.” Qingdao’s health commission also recently claimed that around 115,000 individuals, including medical staff and newly hospitalized non-Covid patients, have already tested negative for the virus. 

Local media outlets reported on residents lining up late Sunday to get tested, which is also likely connected to the Mid-Autumn Festival festivities that millions of China’s residents participated in a week ago. During the holiday festivities an estimated 4.47 million domestic travelers moved across China. 

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The city of Jinan, which is located in the same province as Qingdao, called upon any resident that may have visited the city since September 23rd to get tested. Daily infection rates in China have dropped drastically, and even after two port workers who handled imported seafood in Qingdao tested positive for the virus, no new cases were reported. 

According to the World Health Organization China is currently dealing with 91,305 active cases and the death toll has stood at 4,746. When they had to test all 11 million residents of Wuhan, China they did it by opening hundreds of new temporary testing stations for a 10-day period. Thousands of staffers were hired and mobile teams were sent out to go to individuals homes who may be too old to travel, or are immunocompromised to the point that going outside poses a major risk. 

Qingdao is also planning on taking a page out of Wuhan’s book by setting up pool-testing, which essentially tests between five and 10 samples at a time. With this type of testing you don’t know who individually tests positive from the group if you get a positive result, so if that is the case, medical workers will go back and individually test every participant again to find who has the virus.

White House in DC

Trump Returns To A Coronavirus-Filled White House Despite Expert Concern

President Donald Trump eagerly returned to the White House this Monday after spending three nights in the Walter Reed Medical Center fighting Covid-19.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Rising Covid-19 Concerns Appear In China As Nation Gears Up For Mid-Autumn Festival

With the arrival of the month of October comes the widely celebrated Mid-Autumn festival in Asia. On October 1st, hundreds of millions of individuals are expected to flood public transportation in what’s known as one of the busiest travel times in the world’s most populated country. The eight-day festival marks China’s first major holiday celebration since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

While life in China has almost completely returned to normalcy in terms of the pandemic, this week will be a true test to how successful they were at taming the virus/will continue to keep case numbers down. The festival, however, is projected to bring in a lot of money, as it does every year, which would be a great boost for China’s dwindling economy. 

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Last year 782 million domestic trips were made during the festival week in China, which generated around $95 billion in tourism revenue. This year, the ministry of culture and tourism in China is projecting 550 million domestic trips, while China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip, is predicting the number to be more around 600 million. 

The thought of that many individuals moving within such a short time period seems unfathomable for most citizens across the world also still battling this virus. But in China, the virus is less of a concern for the holiday week, as the nation has had close to zero local transmissions and has continued to implement some of the world’s strictest border control measures for international travelers. 

While Wuhan, China acted as the initial epicenter for Covid-19, the country has since been able to contain the virus and has only dealt with smaller-scaled outbreaks that occasionally would flare up. There haven’t been any locally transmitted symptomatic cases since mid-August, and any individuals coming into China from overseas have to go through a vigorous screening process.

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China’s overall restrictions on domestic movement have for the most part been able to lift. Some cities are requiring their citizens to show a green health code on their smartphones at certain public transportation facilities, but the implementation of that policy has been relatively relaxed as of late. International leaders view this week’s festivities as a sign of China’s confidence, especially considering they’ve been one of the countries most on top of enforcing their health and safety measures. 

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement last week in which they claimed all domestic travel for the country can be arranged as normal for the upcoming holiday week, as long as all cities in mainland China maintain their low risk status. Travelers are still encouraged to protect themselves with facial coverings and social distancing.

China’s Culture and Tourism Ministry has also ordered prominent tourist sites to restrict capacity to 75% during the festival week, and to better facilitate potential contact tracing efforts in the future, all visitors are required to register which sites they’re going to visit online before being granted entry. 

While the Mid-Autumn Festival typically sees a massive spike in international travel among various celebrating Asian countries, this year all overseas trips will likely be impossible due to border restrictions heavily being enforced within most Asian countries. On major Chinese highways it’s expected that massive traffic jams will be occurring as they do every year, as it’s predicted that an average of 51 million highway trips happen per day during the week-long festival. 

Covid Outbreak Virus

European Countries Learning From Sweden As Covid-19 Outbreaks Increase 

European countries are currently seeing massive surges of new Covid-19 cases, and some are opting to take a page from Sweden’s book of coronavirus response efforts to better protect their own countries. Sweden’s been relying more on voluntary compliance than coercion when it comes to getting their citizens to abide by the health and safety procedures put into play, and while that may work for them, we’ve also seen how relying on citizens can go the opposite way.

France is currently averaging 12,000 new cases a day while Spain just passed the 700,000 case mark. The UK is also seeing a massive increase in cases and citizens are beginning to speak out against their governments lack of change in policy to help combat this. Dorit Nitzan, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional emergency director for Europe recently spoke with the media about shifting policies and moving more towards Sweden’s approach. 

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“Sweden’s focus on sustainability over time, citizen engagement, and voluntary compliance was interesting because this is the time we all have to learn to live with the virus.” 

Nitzan went on to explain how her and her team know there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to combating the coronavirus, however, we all could afford to start learning from one another’s success’. Unlike many countries throughout the world Sweden closed all of its colleges and universities for individuals over the age of 16, but kept schools for younger students open. The country banned gatherings of more than 50, and urged individuals over the age of 70 to remain isolated for as long as possible. 

Otherwise, the country’s 10 million residents were simply asked to respect these procedures and remain diligent about social distancing and wearing a mask, most of which have obliged. However, other parts of the world that have relied on voluntary compliance more than actual enforcement has also seen a massive increase in cases as a result. 

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Even in Sweden itself, back in May the country recorded the most Covid-19 deaths per capita in Europe. The country has experienced around 5,900 deaths, half of which reportedly occurred in care homes and other assisted-living facilities. While Sweden has been able to remain relatively stagnant in terms of new cases, recently they’ve been experiencing little surges of new cases that are causing international experts to be skeptical of their voluntary programs. 

In the last two weeks Sweden has seen around 37 new cases per 100,000 residents. Experts say it’s still too early for countries to adopt other procedures for their own residents because of how vastly different every country actually is. Antoine Flahault is a professor of public health and director of the Institute for Global Health and the University of Geneva, who recently spoke with the media about the widely criticized approach Sweden took to fight the virus. 

“Many people think that because Sweden did not lock down, the government did nothing. But it managed to make citizens understand and participate in the fight against the virus, without coercion, mandatory laws or regulations. The effect was not very different.”

While Sweden’s approach may not be as effective in other parts of the country, there are aspects to it that other European countries are willing to adopt in order to protect their own citizens. The main goal for everyone, however, is universal; to curve the spread and eliminate the virus as much as possible.

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Greece Pledges To Rehouse Migrants Made Homeless By Devastating Fires

After massive fires took out Europe’s biggest refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, the country pledged that they would rehouse any and all migrants that were made homeless within days. Notis Mitarachi is Greece’s migration minister, and recently spoke with local media outlets about their efforts to resettle more than 12,500 men, women, and children. He claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to make this happen, however, it’s also the reason there’s such an urgency to get these individuals in a safe space, away from large crowds. 

“It’ll take a few days but all the affected people will be moved into this temporary location. We hope to have 5,000 beds ready by the end of the day.” 

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The “temporary location” that Mitarachi was referring to is a large open plot of land that the military has been tirelessly working on building for these homeless migrants. Before anyone enters this temporary “mini community” they must be tested for Covid-19 as well. The community is set up on a former outdoor firing range, one of the largest plots of land they could find on such short notice. 

Last Tuesday, a series of fires completely obliterated a famously overcrowded migrant camp in Lesbos. Thousands of people were forced to flee into the surrounding countryside and fend for themselves until they could find some sort of safety. Many described making makeshift shelters alongside a long stretch of road so that they could remain in groups. This road led to Mytilene, the island’s port capital, that’s heavily policed. 

Beyond the sides of roads, other individuals have sought out shelter in churches, parking lots, and even cemeteries. Aid groups and authorities began bringing water and food to help these individuals, however, finding all of them after fleeing has proven to be difficult, as many don’t have the resources to make a phone call or receive help. Both the refugees and locals are also not too thrilled at the idea of relocating. 

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Both groups of individuals are fearful of contracting Covid-19, and even though authorities are testing individuals before they enter the temporary camp, there’s still so much uncertainty regarding these refugee’s futures. Prior to the fires in Moria, 35 residents were diagnosed with the virus, leading experts to believe case numbers could very much be over 200 at this point. 

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Greece, recently spoke with the media as well, and claimed that the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and migration fire crisis has been an “explosive mix,” but also is aware that the fires that occurred in Moria could’ve been avoided if more refugee camps were made available. 

“I want to believe that this tragedy is a warning bell for all. I’ve requested that the EU be involved in the management of this new center wherever it is. I hope to see the flag of Greece and Europe at it.” 

Mitsotakis explained that human rights groups have been working tirelessly to improve conditions in these facilities, as they’ve long been underrun and dangerous. As of right now military authorities have been working with local government officials to continue to rehouse as many refugees as they can.

Wild Elephants

Worldwide Animal Population Has Declined Nearly 70% In The Past 50 Years  

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report for 2020, nearly 21,000 monitored populations of mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds – which make up around 4,400 species – have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016. Even more staggering, species living in Latin America and the Caribbean have been disproportionately impacted and have declined, on average, by up to 94%. 

The WWF releases this same report every two years to show us how severe climate change is actually impacting the planet and its billions of inhabitants. The report also reveals how these species specific ecosystems have dwindled within past decades, and shows a clear increase in damage that keeps getting progressively worse every year. 

WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts recently made a statement condemning humanity for destroying species populations out of greed and economic gain. He also claims that the US’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic goes to show how irresponsible our world leaders can actually be when it comes to major issues impacting the entire planet. 

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“We cannot shield humanity from the impacts of environmental destruction. It’s time to restore our broken relationship with nature for the benefit of species and people alike.”

The report directly blames humans as the sole reason for this massive decline and “dire state” the planet is now in. Generally speaking, it claims that the exponential growth of “human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization over the last 50 years” it’s what’s led to the unprecedented and monumental decline of natural resources and habitats. 

The destruction of rainforest habitats for farming has been a key factor in the loss of biodiversity and overall population growth for certain species. The amount of land that’s been stripped from natural habitats in Europe, Central Asia, North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean accounts for 80% of total global deforestation. Land loss in those areas has also led to a 70% decrease in terrestrial biodiversity and 50% decrease in freshwater species biodiversity. The systems now implemented in these cleared out plots of land emit 29% of global greenhouse gases as well. 

“Climate change creates an ongoing destructive feedback loop in which the worsening climate leads to the decline in genetic variability, species richness and populations, and that loss of biodiversity adversely affects the climate.”

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The report states that every single part of the ocean is affected by overfishing pollution and littering. Humans depend on certain marine ecosystems for food and other resources, however, the process of acquiring these resources is doing more damage than good. The emphasis on human health and the planet’s health has also never been more connected. 

The Covid-19 pandemic and multiple wildfires, and other natural disasters that seem to be occurring constantly at this point, prove that humans and nature are greatly connected and need one another to survive. Within the past 50 years, the child mortality and poverty rate has decreased while life expectancy has increased, however, the irreversible damage being done to the planet could completely undo that due to a lack of resources and healthy living environments. 

Within the past 80 years, the rate of infectious diseases emerging has increased “dramatically,” and nearly half of the diseases that have surfaced did so as a direct result of land destruction/change brought on by the food industry. One study reported that diseases originating in animals are responsible for 3 million deaths every year; the Covid-19 pandemic being the most severe example of this. 

So what’s the solution? For those of us at home, we can continue to practice being green everyday, however, the real change needs to come from our world leaders and the multiple industries that exist and actively destroy the environment for financial gain. It’s up to us at home to stay educated and informed, and to vote in all elections for candidates who support improving the planet.

School Books with Apple

Established Professor Claims ‘Higher Education In The UK Is Morally Bankrupt’

Ulf Schmidt has been living and working in the UK for the past 25 years, but after seeing how the educational system in the country is responding to the coronavirus pandemic in relation to keeping students/staff safe, he’s ready to leave.

Police Car

French Reporter Joins Police Force To Expose Systemic Racism And Violence 

Valentin Gendrot is a french journalist who recently infiltrated the country’s police force as a means of observing what types of racist and violent patterns occur within the force behind-the-scenes. He claimed the violence was so frequent that it almost “became boring,” describing an incident in which another officer forced him to help falsify evidence against a young adult who had been severely beaten by an officer. 

“It really shocked me to hear police officers, who are representatives of the state, calling people who were black, Arab or migrants ‘bastards’, but everyone did it. It was only a minority of officers who were violent … but they were always violent.”

One of the biggest takeaways Gendrot claimed to gain from his time on the force was the discovery of how poorly trained and paid police recruits are, and how the stress of the job is so constant and hostile that it makes sense there’s such a high rate of depression and suicide for police officers. 

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Gendrot spent about six months in a police station in Paris in an area that’s known for having extreme tensions between law enforcement and citizens. He wrote a book on his experiences titled Flic (cop), which was published this past Wednesday. Within the book he revealed that he was given a uniform and gun after about three months of training, and was later sent out on patrol. He recounted often witnessing officers assaulting younger individuals; many of which were minors. He claims these assaults occurred every single day, but the “clannish system ensures officers close in rank can protect their own.” 

“They don’t see a youngster, but a delinquent … once this dehumanisation is established everything becomes justifiable, like beating up an adolescent or a migrant.”

The officers always had the attitude that they were untouchable, and knew they could choose when they wanted to be violent at their own will if they pleased. In Gendrot’s specific commissariat he recounted being surrounded by “racists, homophobic, and macho comments every day.” 

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Genrot’s book, Flic, was published in extreme secrecy due to the sensitive undercover nature of the narrative. Only a few media publications have been granted access to the books manuscript before it was published, and Genrot wants future readers to understand that the book is “not anti-police. It’s a factual account of the day-to-day life of a police officer.” He made it a point to remain objective in his narrations and simply state what he witnessed and heard on a daily basis. 

After his three months of training, Genrot finished 27th out of a class of 54 and was issued a uniform and pistol. He immediately was stationed to a Paris district with over 190,000 residents; this particular area is known for having a problem with juvenile drugs and prostitution as well. During one of his first patrols he recalled an officer beating up a teenage migrant in the back of a police van, after which the officer turned to him and said: “what happens in the van stays in the van.” 

The beaten up teenager ended up filing an official complaint against the police, however, Gendrot’s colleagues made up a story and insisted the adolescent boy gave false information and evidence, which then caused the teen to get charged with falsifying evidence; something that’s punishable by a large fine and potential time in prison.  

The book itself is not for the faint of heart, as it’s filled with countless stories like the one above that Gendrot personally witnessed on a daily basis. In a time where law enforcement and political tensions are running high all around the world, Gendrot believes now is the perfect time to publish this book and raise some awareness about what goes on behind-the-scenes with the individuals who are meant to protect and serve the public.