Martin Lewis says travel insurance cannot cover for COVID-19
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As the UK prepares to end the last remaining lockdown rules next week, a raft of EU states are battening down the hatches once more, imposing fresh coronavirus restrictions as the Delta variant spreads like wildfire. France has tightened travel restrictions, Spain and Portugal have reintroduced curfews in tourist hotspots, and Greece and the Netherlands are reimposing curbs on hospitality.
Data released from Johns Hopkins University shows that cases are, without a doubt, on the rise in much of Europe.
Looking at the rolling seven-day average of daily cases per million people, as you can see in the maps and charts below, the UK has shot up in case numbers, with the Netherlands closest behind.
Also on the upswing are Spain, Malta, Portugal, Greece, Denmark and Belgium.
France and Germany have seen increases in daily cases, though less dramatically.
However, while cases are on the rise, hospital admissions in most EU countries have not so far followed the same curve, which is being attributed to vaccine drives.
This has prompted officials to suggest hospital data should become a bigger factor in responding to the pandemic, rather than case numbers.
But this hasn’t stopped a number of EU nations from going back into lockdown.
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, unveiled new measures on Monday, including making health certificates mandatory in cafes, bars, restaurants, cinemas and on planes and long-distance trains from next month.
In a televised address, Mr Macron also said French health workers who had not been vaccinated by September would face sanctions.
And the Dutch premier, Mark Rutte, apologised for lifting restrictions too early, reimposing curbs on bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the Netherlands and cancelled all events involving large crowds until at least August 14.
Mr Rutte said: “What we thought would be possible turned out not to be in practice.
“We had poor judgment, which we regret and for which we apologise.”
In Spain’s Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona, curbs have been reimposed on nightlife in an effort to tame an increase mainly among unvaccinated young people.
Nearly half of Portugal is back under a night-time curfew, with several regions also now requiring a vaccination certificate or negative test to book into a hotel or eat indoors at a restaurant.
Mariana Vieira da Silva, a spokesperson for the Portuguese government, said last week: “We continue to observe a worsening of the pandemic”, adding that 60 Portuguese municipalities now represented a “high risk” of transmission, up from 45 the previous week.
Meanwhile, in the UK, cases are rising at a worrying rate, with some in the NHS concerned about pressure on hospitals.
Dr Catherine Monaghan, a consultant in respiratory medicine at the University Hospital of North Tees, told the BBC: “We are absolutely gutted – it’s really hard – I know the whole country wants this to be over – but the reality is that’s not what is happening in the hospital.
“People are still critically unwell with it – I cannot quite believe we’re back at this stage again – it’s really worrying.”
Staff, already exhausted, she said, were demoralised at having to reopen a Covid ward which required full protective equipment.
She said: “Nurses understandably are really distressed at having to go through this again – having to put on the full PPE – it’s very stressful.”
Experts believe the volume of travel was a major factor in the number of cases of the Delta variant introduced into the UK in a short space of time.
Public Health England figures show the variant was introduced at least 500 times by travellers.
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