First signs of a new wave of COVID-19 in colder countries – POLITICO

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are piling up in northern Europe, where the colder, wetter weather is first being felt across the block.

Recent data from Belgium, the United Kingdom and Denmark indicate a gradual increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations.

The Belgian health authority said its modeling points to a new wave of COVID-19 in mid-October. Its data, released on Friday, suggests that the first waves of this wave have already arrived.

Belgium reported a 17 percent increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in the week ended September 19 compared to the previous week. Hospital admissions in the week ended September 22 were more stable, rising 4 percent, the health agency said.

The Danish Institute for Infectious Diseases reported initial data pointing to a reversal in infection rates, which are now stabilizing or rising slightly across the regions after a long period of decline.

The institute also found that hospital admissions increased by 6 percent in the last week compared to the previous week. “People aged 70 to 89 remain the largest group among new admissions, as has been the case since the beginning of the year,” the institute said.

And in the UK, the number of new cases in the week ending September 17 was 13 percent higher than the previous week, while hospital admissions rose 17 percent in the week ending September 19.

Health authorities, including the World Health Organization, have been warning of a likely spike in cases this cold season for several months. Of particular concern is the pressure on healthcare systems, particularly given an expected surge in other respiratory viruses such as the flu this winter.

“While COVID-19 rates are still low, the latest data over the past seven days suggests an increase in hospital admissions and a surge in positive tests reported from the community,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at UK Health Security Agency.

Hopkins urged those eligible to sign up for their fall vaccine booster “sooner rather than later” to build immune protection ahead of winter.

Europe has approved boosters targeting two species of the Omicron variant, including the currently dominant one. The UK has so far approved a new booster targeting the first Omicron strain and has bought enough for almost the entire population.

“All available boosters provide good protection against serious illness from COVID-19,” Hopkins said.

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