A host of EU nations, including Germany, Belgium and France, are being plunged into further lockdowns in order to curb the spread of the deadly disease. Plans have also been abandoned for a summit of European leaders in Brussels amid the explosion of new cases, many linked to mutant Covid strains. And Prime Minister Mr Johnson has warned the UK should be under “no illusions” that the third wave of infections will “wash up on our shores”.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infection Diseases reported that the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants had hit 103.9 on Sunday.
This is above the country’s key market where it is believed its intensive care units will no longer be able to cope.
As a result, Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to abandoned plans to reopen the economy and push for a prolonged lockdown.
Belgium’s health minister Frank Vandenbroucke warned that his country would likely need additional measures despite having been in a second national lockdown since November.
He said: “We have set ourselves a very important ambition by completely opening schools after Easter and catering from May 1.
“With this increase in contamination, there is a risk of not achieving these objectives.
“It is not impossible. To ensure our goals, additional measures are needed.”
Belgium has witnessed a 42 percent rise in cases and also a 22 percent jump in hospitalisations.
That worrying trend has been replicated across much of Europe, with Italy and France particularly hard hit.
According to the latest data, there are more than 27,000 people being treated for coronavirus in Italian hospitals.
And some 24,671 are being treated in French medical facilities.
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“People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us when a wave hits our friends, I’m afraid it washes up on our shores as well. I expect we will feel those effects in due course.
“And that is why we are getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can, but developing vaccines, rolling them out, these are international projects and they require international cooperation.”
The Prime Minister added: “We will just bash on the with the roadmap we set out, with the programme we’ve got.”