The covid-19 pandemic is increasing health and political pressure in Central Europe, in which several countries that in the first wave appeared as examples of low infections, such as Austria, the Czech Republic or Hungary, now present some of the figures for deaths or infections highest in the EU.
Austria today surpassed the barrier of one hundred daily deaths for the first time and, with 1,069 infections in the last two weeks per 100,000 inhabitants, it is already the second country in the European Union with the highest incidence, only behind Luxembourg.
The situation contrasts with that of just half a year ago, when the Austrian Chancellor, the conservative Sebastian Kurz, referred to Austria, the Czech Republic or Israel as “smart countries” that had been able to react better and faster than others to the pandemic.
With gastronomy, leisure, non-essential commerce and closed educational centers, and the order not to go outside except for what is strictly necessary (exception in which sports is included), only half of the population considers now that the government is handling the pandemic well, compared to 83% in March.
The government has announced a test campaign for the entire population, following the example of Slovakia, and pharmacies will also start offering antigen tests.
Slovakia (with 5.4 million inhabitants) was the first country at the beginning of the month to summon the entire population over ten years to a covid test, which allowed the isolation of 50,000 positives.
This strategy, which the Government defends as an alternative to total confinement, seems to be working and in the last 24 hours 1,311 cases were detected, 50% less than two weeks ago.
Authorities opened theaters, cinemas and religious buildings on Monday, but the country will remain in a state of emergency until January 1.
BACK TO SCHOOL
The Czech Republic, despite having the third highest cumulative contagion rate in the EU, now allows face-to-face education for children in the first and second years of primary school, who must wear masks all the time.
This relief measure contrasts with the tightening in trade, since no more than one customer will be allowed for every 15 square meters, although with the compensation of extending the opening hours by one hour, until 9:00 p.m.
The movement restriction and the curfew are maintained, between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am, and Parliament will debate tomorrow whether to extend the state of emergency until December 20.
CRITICS OF ORBÁN
With figures of 5,000 cases and a hundred deaths every 24 hours in recent weeks, Hungary has doubled the data of a month ago.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the cumulative number of deaths per 100,000 people in the last 14 days is 13.5, the fourth highest in the European Union.
Only the Czech Republic, Belgium and Bulgaria surpass Hungary.
Despite the fact that measures introduced ten days ago, such as the closure of gastronomy and museums and a night curfew, are slowly beginning to reduce infections, the opposition accuses the prime minister, the ultra-nationalist Viktor Orbán, of having acted badly and late .
The government argues, for its part, that it tries to maintain a balance between restrictions and maintain the economy.
In general, the population mostly respects the measures and on the streets you see very few people without the mandatory mask.
TRAGEDY IN ROMANIA
In Romania, the news about covid-19 is still dominated by the death last Saturday of ten covid patients in the fire of an intensive care unit in the city of Piatra Neamt.
Although the investigation continues, sources from the local administration affirm that the room had just been adapted, without the corresponding work permits, as an ICU to rapidly increase the capacity to care for seriously ill covid patients.
The country’s president, the conservative Klaus Iohannis, and the Social Democrats, in the regional government, have crossed accusations about responsibility in the fire.
According to the latest official balance, almost 40% of the ICU beds available for covid are currently occupied.
The number of new daily cases appears to have stabilized at around 10,000.
In Bulgaria, the debate centers on the danger of collapse of the health system, with local media reporting that ambulances must go from one hospital to another until they find space for patients, something that the government denies.
In the last 24 hours, a record of 4,824 new infections has been registered, 12% more than the maximum of three days ago.
With 14.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks, Bulgaria has the third highest mortality rate in the European Union, much higher than countries with similar or lower rates of infection.
Sources from the Ministry of Health have assured Efe that many cases are not detected because few tests are carried out, so many positives continue to lead normal lives.