Europe reports record Covid case numbers amid Omicron surge

Region has reported more than 100 million cases since pandemic began

People wearing protective face masks visit the Parthenon in Greece amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters

Europe is reporting near vertical rises in Covid-19 cases as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the continent.

Cyprus on Tuesday announced it had recorded the world's highest Covid-19 infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days.

At 2,505 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, it was followed by Denmark (2,117), Ireland (1,946), Greece (1,762) and France (1,680).

On Tuesday, the UK reported a total of 218,000 daily cases, with an infection rate of 1,596 per 100,000 people.

France reported a record-breaking 271,686 daily virus cases on Tuesday as Omicron races across the country, burdening hospital staff and threatening to disrupt transport, schools and other services.

The French government is straining to avoid a new economically damaging lockdown and is instead trying to rush a vaccine pass bill through Parliament in hopes that it is enough to protect hospitals.

But with Europe’s highest total of confirmed daily virus cases, after weeks of record-breaking figures, France is in an increasingly challenging position.

More than 20,000 people are in hospital with the virus in France, a number that has been rising steadily for weeks but not as sharply as the infection rates.

Covid-19 patients fill more than 72 per cent of France’s intensive care beds and a once-renowned healthcare system is again showing signs of strain.

Most virus patients in ICUs are not vaccinated, though 77 per cent of the population has had at least two doses.

More than 123,000 people with the virus have died in the country, among the world’s higher death tolls.

A growing number of people in France cannot work because they are sick or have been in close contact cases, disrupting some hospitals and forcing the cancellation of some regional trains, among other services.

The French government has imposed some restrictions on crowds and reimposed mask requirements outdoors in some places, in addition to indoor mask requirements.

The surge is also forcing candidates for April presidential election to scale back campaign events.

Europe has once again become the pandemic's epicentre and is battling an upsurge of cases spurred by the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the virus.

The European region, including 52 countries and territories from the Atlantic coast to Azerbaijan and Russia, has recorded 100,074,753 infections of Covid-19 over the past two years, an AFP tally of official figures showed — more than a third of all infections worldwide.

The calculations are based on official figures, but some infections could have gone undetected, for example if patients were asymptomatic.

Of the European infections, more than 4.9 million have been reported over the past seven days alone, with 17 out of 52 countries or territories beating their previous records of most cases in a single week.

Covid-related deaths are, however, decreasing in Europe.

Europe recorded on average 3,413 coronavirus deaths a day over the past week, a 7 per cent drop from the previous week. At its worst, in January last year, that average was 5,735 deaths a day.

This could be due to the fact that Europeans are now, on the whole, more vaccinated than the worldwide average.

Sixty-five per cent of Europeans are partially vaccinated, while 61 per cent are fully vaccinated, the Our World in Data website showed.

Though taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organisation estimates the overall death toll worldwide could be two to three times higher than official figures show.

Updated: January 5th 2022, 12:07 AM