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  6.  » Europe’s extra testing drives global coronavirus infections to the highest recorded level

But deaths remain flat and below peak levels across the world

Chris Pleasance and Reuters – Daily Mail Oct 9, 2020

The World Health Organisation has recorded the largest one-day rise in coronavirus cases of the pandemic so far. 

A total of 338,779 cases of the virus were logged around the world on Thursday, up from 330,340 recorded on October 2, the WHO said.

This is being driven by an increase in positive tests in Europe, which logged 96,996 cases on Thursday, the highest one-day total for the region. 

However, global figures show that deaths have remained flat over the same period and are below the first-wave peak, both in Europe and around the world. 

This suggests that increased testing capacity is largely responsible for the higher figures, as moderate and mild cases that were missed during the first wave are now being detected.  

Global coronavirus cases hit an all-time high on Thursday, with more than 300,000 infections recorded (yellow line, scale on the right). But a large portion of these cases will be due to increased testing, since global deaths (red line, scale on the left) have remained flat. Click to enlarge

The global spike is being driven by an increase in positive tests in Europe (yellow line, scale on the right), which have increased rapidly in recent weeks. While deaths on the continent have also increased (red line, scale on the left) they have not kept pace, suggesting that a large portion of the new cases are mild or moderate infections that were missed in the first wave. Click to enlarge

Because of a shortage of tests during the first wave, only the most serious cases of the virus – typically in people admitted to hospital – were being tested.

That meant that a large number of cases, even with symptoms, were not recorded. 

As a result, official case totals during the first wave remained far below the true number of cases, while death and case figures tracked each-other very closely.

Now, as testing capacity has increased, case figures have shot up, but this has not been mirrored by sharp rises in deaths, as was seen during the first wave. 

This is because the ‘additional’ cases can be accounted for as mild or moderate infections that were missed earlier on. 

Taking Europe’s figures as an example, daily coronavirus cases near-doubled between August 1 and September 1, from around 17,000 per day to 31,000, as testing capacity was ramped up.

But during the same period deaths increased by only 15 per cent, from around 290 per day on August 1 to 335 per day on September 1.

Europe’s case figures then doubled again between September and October, from 31,000 per day to 60,000 per day, according to European CDC data.

This time the uptick in deaths was more pronounced, increasing 90 per cent from 335 to 638, which is what has caused governments to implement local lockdown measures in an attempt to curb infections.

However, deaths are still well below their peak of almost 4,300 which came on April 10, which is why governments are avoiding general lockdowns of the kind used at the time. 

WHO data also logged rises in other countries on Thursday, as India reported 78,524 new cases, followed by Brazil at 41,906 and the United States with 38,904.

According to a Reuters analysis of more recent country data, COVID-19 infections are rising in 54 countries, including surges in Argentina, Canada and much of Europe.

Infections in the United Kingdom have reached record levels with over 17,000 new cases reported on Thursday.

‘We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning,’ said Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England.

France’s new daily COVID-19 infections remained above the record 18,000 threshold for the second day on Thursday with new measures to curb the outbreak expected.

The average number of new infections reported in Belgium has been increasing for seven days straight and Germany reported its biggest daily increase in new cases since April on Thursday.

While India still leads in the globe in most new cases reported per day, new infections are down 20% from its peak.

In the United States, which has the largest total number of cases and deaths in the world, new infections are edging higher along with the most hospitalized COVID-19 patients since early September.