Coronavirus in Europe: Where are the hotspots and how does Ireland compare?

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Coronavirus In Europe: Where Are The Hotspots And How Does Ireland Compare? Coronavirus In Europe: Where Are The Hotspots And How Does Ireland Compare?
The Czech Republic has the highest coronavirus infection rate in Europe
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Tomas Doherty

Covid-19 infection rates are dropping across Europe and vaccinations are picking up pace, but new mutations of the virus still pose serious risks to Ireland's path out of the pandemic.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its most recent risk assessment that variants of coronavirus that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil pose a high risk and will lead to more Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

The B117 variant first detected in southern England accounts for near 90 per cent of cases in Ireland and is becoming increasingly dominant elsewhere, making up about 45 per cent of cases in Portugal, 30 per cent in the Netherlands and 27 per cent in Denmark.

Ireland, which in early January had the worst coronavirus infection rate in the world, is now below the European average for new cases.

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The latest figures from the ECDC show Ireland has reported 263 cases per 100,000 people over the most recent 14-day period.

As things stand, the Czech Republic has the highest infection rate in Europe.

The country of 10.7 million reported 968 new cases per 100,000 people on a two-week basis.

Czech health minister Jan Blatny said on Friday that the Covid-19 situation had “significantly worsened”, as he dropped plans to open all retail shops from next week.

The Czech government said earlier this week it might ask neighbouring Germany to take in Covid patients if the situation worsens further.

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Estonia has the next highest rate on the continent, with 649 cases per 100,000.

The countries with the lowest infection rates are Iceland (7) and Norway (65). The European average is 306 cases per 100,000.

The ECDC continues to advise against all but essential travel, and is urging European governments to accelerate the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations for high-risk groups such as the elderly and healthcare workers.

It says a combination of physical distancing, increased surveillance, sequencing of samples, rigorous contact tracing and quarantine are also needed to effectively curb the spread of the new variants. – Additional reporting: Reuters

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