European countries track rising COVID-19 numbers

More European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, are experiencing new upticks in COVID-19 activity, and in the United Kingdom, where cases have already been on the rise for several weeks, officials designated the AY.4.2 Delta subvariant a variant of interest.

Experts in the United States are closely watching activity in Britain and its neighbors, because activity there is often a bellwether for the next phase of the pandemic.

Germany, Netherlands eye new rises

Germany's Robert Koch Institute said the country's 7-day case incidence rose more than 26 points over the last week, marking the start of a fourth wave, according to Reuters. German lawmakers are calling on the federal government to give them authority to enact COVID-19 measures, given that the country's state of emergency is slated to end on Nov 25.

The Netherlands today reported nearly 6,000 new cases, the most since the end of July, according to the NL Times. Hot spot cities include Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. Hospitalizations also rose, reaching a level not seen since the end of May.

Increases in western Europe are coming in the wake of steep rises in Eastern European countries, where fewer people are vaccinated and several locations are reporting record daily highs.

Ukraine today reported record highs for cases and deaths for the second consecutive day, and officials in Kyiv have ordered a 2-week school closure, according to the Associated Press. The government also issued broader measures, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to travel by planes, trains, buses.

Only about 15% of the Ukrainian population is fully vaccinated.

Also today, Russia reported record daily deaths for the fourth day in a row.

UK designates new variant of interest

The UK's Health Security Agency (HSA) today designated the AY.4.2 Delta variant sublineage as a variant of interest, due to its rising prevalence and early evidence that it might have an increased growth rate in the UK as compared to the standard Delta (B1617.2) variant.

"More evidence is needed to know whether this is due to changes in the virus’ behaviour or to epidemiological conditions," the HSA said.

The original Delta variant is still overwhelmingly dominant, making up 99.8% of cases. However, over the past week AY.4.2 accounted for 6% of cases and has been found in all of England's nine regions.

Britain's cases are up 17.9% over the past week, and at a meeting last week, the government's scientific advisory group said earlier interventions in the face of increased activity could avert the need for stronger, more disruptive measures later, according to Reuters. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's administration said there is no need yet to step up measures.

More global headlines

  • New Zealand reported a new record daily high of 129 cases, and government officials said they will take a less restrictive approach once each district has vaccinated 90% of its population. Currently, the country has reached about 70%.

  • China today reported 28 more local cases spanning several provinces, including 11 in Inner Mongolia, where lockdowns and other measures have been ordered in a few cities. Also, a case was reported from Beijing, where restrictions have been ordered for one of the city's districts.

  • The global total today rose to 242,803,097 cases, along with 4,934,449 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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