EU says Britain is not seeing downward trend in coronavirus cases

Britain is one of five European countries NOT seeing a downward trend in coronavirus cases, EU warns after Boris Johnson said UK was ‘on downward slope’

  • EU disease agency chief said Britain had seen ‘no substantial changes’ recently
  • She named Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Sweden as others who are behind
  • UK’s daily rate of increase has been higher than in Spain, Italy or Germany 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The UK is behind most of Europe in bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control, the head of the EU’s disease control agency has said.  

Andrea Ammon said Britain was one of five European countries along with Poland, Romania, Sweden and Bulgaria which have yet to see a downward trend in cases. 

Ammon, the head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said Britain had seen ‘no substantial changes’ in the last 14 days. 

Her comments contradict Boris Johnson’s claim last week that Britain is on a ‘downward slope’.   

The UK’s daily number of coronavirus cases has been relatively stagnant over the last month, compared to clear declines in Italy, Germany and Spain, as this graph shows 

This graph shows the daily percentage increase in cases, which has been higher in Britain and Sweden than in Italy, Germany, Spain or France 

Andrea Ammon (pictured), the head of the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), said yesterday that Britain was not yet seeing a downturn in cases 

The UK yesterday saw 3,985 new coronavirus cases – higher than most countries have been recording. 

Germany, which has a larger population and might expect to confirm more cases because of its higher testing numbers, has not seen that many cases since April 11.   

In Italy, where the population is only slightly smaller than in Britain, the daily increase has not been as high as 3,985 since April 12.   

Germany has seen fewer than 1,000 cases per day for the last four days, while Italy has been below 2,000 per day for most of the last week.  

Spain was regularly recording 4,000 cases a day until April 25, although its figures were affected by a short-lived experiment with including antibody tests. 

Britain’s average over the last week is 4,776 cases per day – far higher than in Germany (1,074), Italy (1,789) or Spain (1,220). 

The UK’s average increase in the last seven days was 2.8 per cent, compared to 0.7 per cent in Germany, 0.9 per cent in Italy and 0.6 per cent in Spain.  

The figure is 2.6 per cent in lockdown-free Sweden, another of the countries identified by Ammon as struggling to bring its numbers down.  

Neither Germany nor Italy has had an increase above two per cent since April 18, and Germany has now seen fewer than 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days.  

The UK has also seen 28,675 coronavirus deaths, and yesterday’s increase of 229 was the smallest since March 29. 

However, Britain is now only a few hundred deaths short of Italy’s tally, which is the worst in Europe and the second-highest in the world after the United States. 

The UK’s average 2.4 per cent daily rise in deaths over the last week compares to 2.1 per cent in Germany, 1.1 per cent in Italy and 1.1 per cent in Spain – but 2.9 per cent in Sweden. 

Speaking to EU lawmakers, Ammon said the UK had seen ‘no substantial changes’ in the last two weeks. 

She said the same was true of Poland, Romania and Sweden, while Bulgaria was still recording an increase in cases.  

Boris Johnson (pictured outside Number 10 last week) said on Thursday that Britain was ‘beginning to turn the tide’ against the epidemic 

This chart shows the daily number of coronavirus deaths in the UK. It reached a five-week low of 229 yesterday

Ammon’s comments are at odds with Boris Johnson’s claim last week that Britain was ‘coming to the end of the first phase’ and ‘on the downward slope’. 

Comparing the virus to an ‘invisible mugger’, Mr Johnson said that ‘this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor’. 

Hailing Britain’s ‘apparent success’ during the six-week lockdown, he said Britain had ‘defied predictions’ by avoiding a ‘collapse’ in the NHS.  

Apart from the five countries mentioned, every other European nation has seen a drop in cases, Ammon said. 

‘As of Saturday, it appears that the initial wave of transmission has passed its peak,’ she said in a virtual meeting. 

However, she warned that ‘this is not going to end any time soon and people need to prepare mentally for it.’

Ammon said that ‘this virus will not go away as long as we don’t have a vaccine’ and warns ‘we must not drop our guard.’ 

The ECDC monitors all 27 EU member countries plus Britain, Norway, Liechtenstein and Island.

UK officials have played down international comparisons in general, saying that figures are collected in different ways by different countries. 

More than 1.1million cases have been recorded as of Monday across those 31 European countries. More than 136,000 have died, according to the ECDC. 

Unclear cases, low testing rates and the strain on health care systems mean the true scale of the pandemic is likely to be far greater.     

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