With the surge in virus cases in Europe, the UK continues its new normal

London (Associated Press)-Bar Closed in Vienna, And Christmas market Empty in munich, As several European countries tightened or even blocked in response to the surge in coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile, in London, couples sip mulled wine at the seasonal market near the Thames, the nearby National Theatre is full of seats, and friends squeeze beer in bars throughout the city.

Not the first time in Pandemic, Britain is incompatible with many of its neighbors. But this time, I am happy to be different.

The UK has experienced three nationwide lockdowns and recorded nearly 145,000 deaths from the coronavirus. This is the country with the highest number of deaths in Europe after Russia. Now, it is watching that hospitals in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic are struggling to cope with the surge in cases, thereby implementing lockdowns and restrictions. However, although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that “blizzards from the East” could still ruin Christmas in the UK, many scientists said that the wind is now in the opposite direction.

“In this wave, we are not behind Europe. They support us,” said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.

Driven by the highly spreading strain of the virus delta virus, the surge now hitting the European continent swept the UK in the summer, while at the same time the government lifted all remaining legal restrictions on the economy and daily life.

Since the United Kingdom was infected with the delta virus in the summer, the respiratory virus was not easily spread at this time. “It is not as explosive as we expected in the winter, but as we see in some European countries now,” Mark Woolhouse (Mark Woolhouse) Professor of Infectious Disease Modeling at the University of Edinburgh said.

“I think the triangle wave appeared in the UK at an accidental time, and in Austria, for example, the situation is just the opposite,” he said. Austria, where the average daily death toll has almost doubled in the past two weeks, has entered a state of lockdown, and the authorities there plan to start mandatory vaccination on February 1.

The World Health Organization said this week that Europe is the only region in the world where the number of coronavirus cases is increasing. Unless urgent measures are taken as soon as possible, another 700,000 people may die on the continent by spring.

But the UK is a bit different.

Many scientists predict that after July 19 (called “Freedom Day” by the media), the number of cases in the country will surge. Almost all restrictions have been removed. It did not happen.

At that time, the infection rate was the highest in Europe. Although it has remained high, it did not soar again as people feared. The UK records more than 40,000 new cases every day, which is the last level of the surge in the last winter. But the relatively high vaccination rate—especially among the elderly—means that the number of hospitalizations and deaths is much lower than in previous waves. Nonetheless, 130 people died every day in the past week from testing positive for COVID-19.

British hospitals are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, although they are very busy because the health system is working hard to clean up the large backlog that was built up during the pandemic. So far, Johnson’s Conservative government has not launched its “Plan B”, which will reintroduce the mask-wearing regulations and work-from-home orders to ease the pressure on the health system.

But if life in Britain now feels abnormally normal—even on holidays, because many people welcome holidays with new enthusiasm—this is a new and more restricted normality.

Tourists from countries where restrictions still exist are sometimes surprised by Britain’s voluntary and variable mask use methods and social distancing. But Ivo Vlaev, a behavioral scientist at the University of Warwick who has studied data from across Europe, says that Britons basically insist on taking protective measures — including restricting contact with others — even if the law no longer requires this. Flow data indicate that the number of British people travelling and mixing is still less than before the pandemic.

Vaev said: “Compared with some other European countries, the British are generally more compliant in all health protection behaviors.”

He said that part of the reason is “fear-after the severe pandemic in the UK, we are actually very afraid to go out and do normal things.”

When some European countries turned to force more people to be vaccinated, the United Kingdom insisted on persuading. The UK does not extensively require vaccination certificates for participation in activities or workplaces. Although health and social care workers have been required to be vaccinated, the government has ruled out the possibility of compulsory vaccination for everyone.

The United Kingdom has not developed such a resistance to vaccines as many other countries. About 88% of people 12 years of age and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. But only about 68% of the population is fully vaccinated, which is lower than some other European countries. Part of the reason is that the United Kingdom is slower in providing vaccinations to children aged 12 to 15 than in many neighboring countries, and the vaccine has not yet been approved for young children. Child.

The government’s focus is to provide booster doses for those most vulnerable to serious illnesses, with a third injection for everyone 40 years of age and older six months after the second injection.

“Get the booster as soon as possible,” the prime minister said this week. “Because by vaccinating our country, we will be able to get your employees back to their workplaces, open our theaters, our restaurants, and now return to normal life longer than any comparable country.”

Some public health experts and opposition politicians say that the government relies too much on vaccination to stop the spread of the virus. They hope to restore mandatory masks, social distancing and other measures.

However, some epidemiologists are cautiously optimistic and believe that sufficient measures have been taken to control the virus through the winter. Perhaps ironically, Hunter said that the heavy death toll caused by the new coronavirus in the UK puts it in a more favorable position than countries with the current surge in the virus.

“Their population is not as immune as ours, whether it comes from vaccines or infections,” he said. “Compared with most European countries, our immunity to natural infections is still much higher, and we are launching boosters. This is why our winter will be less troublesome than most people.”

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Follow the Associated Press report on the coronavirus pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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