For a growing number of Europeans, they are making it clear that they are experiencing "pandemic fatigue" as many grow weary and frustrated.
“We were closed for six months, the restaurants didn’t work and yet the number of cases still rose,” said Moaghin Marius Ciprian, Owner of the popular Grivita Pub n Grill who took part in the protest.
“I'm not a specialist but I'm not stupid either. But from my point of view it’s not us that have the responsibility for this pandemic.”
The second wave of coronavirus cases has triggered a rise in Covid-19 cases across many European countries, some — including Belgium, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain and France — are diagnosing more new cases every day per capita than the United States, according to the seven-day rolling averages of data kept by Johns Hopkins University.
On Friday, France, with a population of about 70 million, reported a record 20,300 new infections.
Experts say Europe's high infection rate is due in large part to expanded testing that is turning up far more asymptomatic positives than during the first wave, when only the sick could get a test.
But the trend is nevertheless alarming, given the flu season hasn’t even begun, schools are open for in-person learning and the cold weather hasn’t yet driven Europeans indoors, where infection can spread more easily.
“We’re seeing 98,000 cases reported in the last 24 hours. That’s a new regional record. That’s very alarming,” said Robb Butler, Executive Director of the WHO’s Europe regional office.
While part of that is due to increased testing, “It’s also worrisome in terms of virus resurgence.”
It’s also worrisome given many countries still lack the testing, tracing and treating capacity to deal with a second wave of coronavirus infections when the first wave never really ended, said Dr. Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“They should have been using the time to put in place really robust ‘find, test, trace, isolate’ support systems. Not everybody did,” McKee said.
“Had they done that, then they could have identified outbreaks as they were emerging and really gone for the sources.”
Even Italy is struggling amid the surge of Covid-19 cases in Europe, after it won international praise for having tamed the virus with a strict 10-week lockdown and instituted a careful, conservative reopening and aggressive screening and contact-tracing effort when summer vacation travelers created new clusters.