Global coronavirus cases are beginning to rise again, with a number of countries seeing their new infections surging in recent days and weeks.
In particular, Europe is seeing COVID cases soar, with a third wave advancing swiftly across much of the continent.
The total of worldwide cases have been slowly climbing in recent weeks, bringing up the seven-day average.
On February 20, new global case numbers dropped to their lowest since the middle of October with 398,366 new cases recorded and a seven-day average of 360,664.
However, on the last count on March 13, new cases had climbed to 492,351 and the seven-day average to 442,494.
Many nations that were badly hit over the northern hemisphere winter, such as the US, saw cases sharply drop through February, bur the drop has levelled off since the start of March with a seven-day average of around 61,400 new cases a day.
However, there are many countries where cases are increasing, contributing to the upward curve of daily new cases worldwide.
Map showing daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people. Picture: Our World in Data
Map showing daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people. Picture: Our World in DataSource:Supplied
The infection rate in the EU is now at its highest level since the beginning of February, with the spread of new variants of the COVID-19 virus being blamed for much of the recent increase.
Several countries are now set to impose strict new lockdown measures in the next few days.
Italy is set to reimpose restrictions across most of the country on Monday – a year after it became the first European nation to face a major outbreak.
There, authorities recorded more than 27,000 new cases and 380 deaths on Friday.
Schools, restaurants, shops and museums will close with Health Minister Roberto Speranza saying he hoped the measures and vaccination program would allow restrictions to be relaxed in the second half of spring.
France, meanwhile, has recorded more than 26,000 new cases on the last count overnight. While the figure is a drop from the day before’s 29,759, the situation in the nation’s hospitals is worsening.
Those intensive care units edged higher by 57 to 4,127, while emergency resuscitation units were running at nearly 82 per cent capacity, the highest since late November.
The French government has so far resisted pressure from health experts to impose a new, third lockdown in the face of rising case numbers.
Instead it has imposed a 6pm nationwide curfew and weekend lockdowns in two regions struggling to contain outbreaks while big shopping centres have been required to close.
In Poland, 17,260 new daily coronavirus cases were reported on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since November. New pandemic restrictions are likely to be announced this week.
In Germany, 12,674 new infections were reported on Saturday, a rise of 3117 from the previous week, as the head of the country’s infectious disease agency acknowledged that the country was now in the grip of a third wave.
According to John Hopkins University data, the worst-affected nations per capita are in eastern and central Europe.
The Czech Republic is being hit the hardest with 1411 cases per one million people.
The country’s case rates have put a massive strain on its public health system; on March 5, the Czech government announced publicly that it had asked Germany, Switzerland and Poland to take in dozens of COVID-19 patients, in order to ease the burden on Czech hospitals that were running out of bed space.
The other worst-affected nations include Estonia, Hungary, San Marino and Montenegro.
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