Covid across Europe: As UK prepares for new lockdowns, Europe too is struggling

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Paris 'funeral' for restaurants and barsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Restaurant and bar workers held a "funeral' for their trade in Paris

Just as Europe was hoping it could put Covid to rest, the virus has risen again, with renewed venom. Case numbers have been rising and in their wake, hospital admissions too.

Each country is trying to find the right combination of measures - local lockdowns, test-and-trace initiatives, economic support and public communication - to drive down numbers as winter approaches. As the UK government prepares to unveil a range of new lockdown rules, BBC reporters from France, Germany and other European capitals explain how their countries are managing.

At the bottom of the article, we show how two key nations in Asia have seen a different trajectory.

Deaths 32,521 | Death rate 50 per 100,000 people | Total cases 671,638

Warning lights are flashing in French cities as the long-anticipated autumn surge starts to make itself felt, writes Hugh Schofield, in Paris.

All key indicators give cause for concern. Roughly 18,000 new cases are being detected each day. The number of cases is 116 per 100,000 people and also rising. According to doctors, the main vector is young people resuming social lives post-lockdown and then passing the virus on.

However, there is a change from the first wave in March/April because this time, thanks to testing, the big regional and city/countryside variations are clear to see. Increasingly the epidemic is seen as an urban phenomenon. This means that the government's response is not - and is unlikely ever to be - another national lockdown.

Instead the health authorities have devised a complex system of regional alert levels. About two-thirds of the country are now in a red zone, meaning the virus there is spreading.

With each level new restrictions kick in. For example in Paris, on maximum alert along with five other cities, bars are now shut.

Quote pic, Hugh Schofield
Getty Images
It is what the people expect - not that they show huge confidence in the way the epidemic is being handled

At the lowest alert level, gatherings are limited to 30; at the higher levels the limit is 10. In addition, government representatives in the regions have discretionary powers to order other measures - such as the compulsory wearing of masks in Paris.

Like in other countries, France's mantra is test, trace, isolate. The number of daily tests is now about 175,000. There is already a nationwide network of independent laboratories which have become testing sites, though others have been set up by town halls. When I got tested after developing symptoms in September, it took just a day to arrange the test and another day for the result (negative). However, by general admission, the contact tracing system it is not functioning as it should be. Simply put, there are too many cases and the government is recruiting an extra 2,000 extra staff.

In keeping with its reputation, France claims to have the most generous state help in Europe to individuals and businesses that are suffering from Covid. People who are isolating can claim sick benefit in the normal way. If a child needs home care because of an outbreak at school, a parent can stay at home and go on furlough. Furlough has been offered to 1.3 million workers so far. The scheme, under which companies can be reimbursed 85% of a person's salary, has now been extended into the new year.

If it is all very French, it is what people expect - not that they show huge confidence in the way the epidemic is being handled.

A poll by Elabe this week suggested only 35% of people trusted the government to "fight effectively against Covid". Some 73% said they were "personally worried" about the virus - an increase of four points in a week.

Deaths 906 | Death rate 8.5 per 100,000 people | Total cases 109,374

If seven days is a long time in politics, how long is seven months in a pandemic? To most here, it feels like an age, writes Rob Cameron, in Prague.

Back in March, the Czech Republic was feted for its rapid response to Covid, shutting its borders and swiftly locking down most of the economy. People were told to stay at home where possible. Masks were made compulsory indoors and out. Most respected the measures with good grace and humour.

By the end of June, an infamous dinner party was held on Prague's Charles Bridge to celebrate the end of "this difficult period of the coronavirus crisis" (although not to declare the virus itself vanquished, as is sometimes wrongly claimed). At that time, the country of 10.7 million was seeing 150 cases a day and had recorded 347 deaths in just over three months.

An infamous dinner party was held on the Charles Bridge to celebrate the end of 'this difficult period'
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An infamous dinner party was held on the Charles Bridge to celebrate the end of 'this difficult period'

The sun shone. Holidays were booked. Masks and other restrictions were gleefully abandoned.

Today, the Czech Republic has both the highest and the fastest-growing daily number of new cases in Europe, with figures almost double those in the UK. The ratio of positive cases to tests stands at 30% - a number that terrifies epidemiologists.

The total death toll now stands at more than 800, but will almost certainly pass 1,000 by next week.

Officials warn the country's hospitals could soon become overwhelmed.

The track-and-trace system has struggled to keep up. Authorities are taking days - sometimes 14 - to contact people who might have come into contact with an infected person. Its helplines are permanently engaged.

"A difficult period lies ahead of us. We will need all hands on deck," Health Minister Roman Prymula, himself an epidemiologist, told a televised news briefing. Standing next to him on the podium was Prime Minister Andrej Babis, the man whom many Czechs blame for the current crisis. It was Mr Babis - it is widely believed - who vetoed a plan to re-introduce regulations on masks. In the end, the numbers began their inexorable climb to their current peak, and new measures are being introduced anyway.

They were too little, too late.

The PM has warned that a new lockdown cannot be ruled out and urged people to stay at home for the weekend.

Czechs, meanwhile, are trying to grapple with the myriad new rules and regulations coming into force on Monday. Pubs, restaurants and bars will only be able to seat a maximum of four people at one table, and must close at 20:00. Wi-fi will be switched off in shopping centres to put off young people from gathering. Only groups of two will be able to enter shops or shopping centres together, and children aged 12-15 will take turns doing online teaching on a class-by-class basis, to keep classes from mixing in schools.

Some scientists say the Czech numbers in March were so low it was wrong even to call it an epidemic. That, sadly, is no longer the case.

Deaths 9,609 | Death rate 11.6 per 100,000 people | Total cases 320,899

Germany is widely held up as a model of how to manage Covid in Europe, but there is a nervousness in the air as the weather gets colder, writes Damian McGuinness in Berlin.

So far it has fared comparatively well. Total deaths are below 10,000 - less than a quarter the UK total, in a population significantly larger. But infections, which had remained low over the summer, have started to surge. The latest daily rate is almost 5,000 - a high not seen since April.

This is still low compared with other big European countries. And so far, Germany's track-and-trace system has held up well, but it has its limits. As infections rise, the system will start to struggle. This has already happened in Berlin, Frankfurt and Bremen. Other urban centres are also seeing a sudden rise in infection rates.

And while it's mostly young people now, the fear is that the virus will find its way into the older, more vulnerable population.

Which is why on Friday afternoon Chancellor Angela Merkel had a video conference with the mayors of Germany's 11 biggest cities to decide new stricter measures.

"Now is the time that we will determine in what shape Germany will get through the pandemic this winter," Mrs Merkel said.

This weekend some cities, including Berlin, are introducing a 23:00 closing times for bars, cafes and restaurants. Limits on numbers of people allowed to meet are also being brought back. Mrs Merkel will meet mayors again in two weeks, and if infection rates haven't fallen, tougher measures will be introduced.

The lockdown in Germany was milder than in other European countries — there were never restrictions on going outside, for example. It was also shorter, meaning that businesses suffered less of a hit. Mask-wearing has become ubiquitous, so there have been few outbreaks on transport, in shops, or at other services such as hairdressers.

Polling shows that most people support the government's measures. It's rare to see anyone flouting the rules about wearing face-coverings in shops or on public transport. Mrs Merkel's personal ratings are the highest of any politician. Unemployment rates have only increased by one percentage point since March. In September, the jobless figure even went down slightly.

But Germany would struggle to afford another lockdown — particularly with such generous state support. And unlike the UK, where furlough payments have tapered off in recent months, in Germany they increase the longer someone can't work, or is forced to take a salary cut, because of Covid. The 67% of salary paid to workers with kids for the first three months rises to 87% after six months, and the scheme is set to run until the end of 2021.

Deaths 6,546 | Death rate 38.4 per 100,000 people | Total cases 161,929

"Very bad" was Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's assessment on Friday of how his country is faring. An understatement perhaps, given the Netherlands has one of the worst infection rates in Europe - almost 6,000 new cases recorded on Thursday, writes Anna Holligan, in The Hague.

Like the UK, the second wave came sooner than many expected. Rules had been relaxed over the summer. There was an impression the Netherlands had beaten the virus.

Tests are in short supply, as are the staff to do them. The country can handle 17,500 a day but that means not everyone with symptoms can be tested. There is a joke that the government is adopting Dutch GP's usual advice: "Take a paracetamol."

This weekend a long-awaited contact tracing app was due to go live. Most bars and restaurants already have registers for customers to leave their details, but few do. Where health authorities do have people's details, they have often been unable to cope and so contacts have gone untraced.

Cyclist in village of Bathmen
Getty Images
In shops as I cycled down my local High Street in The Hague, no-one was wearing a mask

Image is of Bathmen, east Netherlands

In March, the Netherlands implemented a self-titled "intelligent lockdown", so life could continue while limiting the spread of the virus. More recently, people have been advised to wear masks in all enclosed public spaces. But introducing mask rules in two stages appears to have affected compliance. Mask-wearers remain in the minority. Looking in shops as I cycled down my local high street in The Hague, no-one was wearing a mask.

There has been a huge economic support package, covering up to 90% of wages. Business owners can apply for a "gift" of 1,000 euros (£906) a month. But the government focus now is on encouraging people to adapt to "the new economic reality".

Chaotic and shambolic are words not often used to describe the Dutch, but increasingly they are how critics have characterised Mr Rutte's handling of the outbreak. Public approval has crumbled. According to the latest polls, support for the government's approach has dipped from 75% to 65%. Some 66% said ministers should be introducing tougher measures.

If there's no downturn in new cases over this weekend, the prime minister has warned tougher measures are unavoidable.

Deaths 32,929 | Death rate 70.5 per 100,000 people | Total cases 861,112

Spain started to see infections rise again almost as soon as its strict national lockdown was lifted at the end of June. There have been constant new outbreaks since then, and the government now accepts that a second wave is hitting the country, writes Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid.

There are currently more than 10,000 patients in hospital with the virus. Spain has had the highest number of cases in Europe so far and last week registered another 57,247.

Testing capacity has increased since the peak of the first wave, to about 50,000 tests a day. But the numbers of tests available can vary a great deal from one region to another and there are concerns that this has contributed to Spain's difficulties in managing the pandemic.

There are no figures showing the total number of tracers at work in Spain. The health ministry has a tracing app, Radar Covid, but fewer than 10% of Spaniards have it on their phones.

The government recently extended a furlough scheme for businesses until the end of January. It allows companies to send workers home or reduce their hours, maintaining unemployment benefits at 70% for those not working.

Although infections have been rising in almost all areas of the country since the summer, some regions have been particularly hard hit. In July and August, the north-eastern regions of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Aragón saw a sharp spike in cases and, more recently, the Madrid region has become the biggest source of new infections.

The authorities have been introducing local restrictions to tackle outbreaks. In some cases, rules are introduced across a whole region, such as the closure of nightclubs in Catalonia. In other cases, movements are restricted in a town or village and locals are urged to stay at home.

Face masks are obligatory in all public places for anyone over the age of six, with some exceptions, and it is unusual to see people flouting that rule on the streets of a city, for example.

But while Spaniards have generally obeyed these restrictions, there have been growing clashes between the national and regional governments, reflecting Spain's deeply polarised politics. The national government has forced through restrictions in Madrid and several surrounding cities, despite strong opposition from the regional administration.

People's views on the government's handling of the pandemic tends to reflect this divide and be fairly evenly split - a recent study by the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed that 57% of Spaniards had little or no confidence in the government's response to the crisis.

data in detail

Scroll table to see more data

*Deaths per 100,000 people

US 1,012,833 308.6 87,030,788
Brazil 672,033 318.4 32,535,923
India 525,242 38.4 43,531,650
Russia 373,595 258.8 18,173,480
Mexico 325,793 255.4 6,093,835
Peru 213,579 657.0 3,640,061
UK 177,890 266.2 22,232,377
Italy 168,604 279.6 18,805,756
Indonesia 156,758 57.9 6,095,351
France 146,406 218.3 30,584,880
Iran 141,404 170.5 7,240,564
Germany 141,397 170.1 28,542,484
Colombia 140,070 278.3 6,175,181
Argentina 129,109 287.3 9,394,326
Poland 116,435 306.6 6,016,526
Ukraine 112,459 253.4 5,040,518
Spain 108,111 229.6 12,818,184
South Africa 101,812 173.9 3,995,291
Turkey 99,057 118.7 15,180,444
Romania 65,755 339.7 2,927,187
Philippines 60,602 56.1 3,709,386
Chile 58,617 309.3 4,030,267
Hungary 46,647 477.5 1,928,125
Vietnam 43,088 44.7 10,749,324
Canada 42,001 111.7 3,958,155
Czech Republic 40,324 377.9 3,936,870
Bulgaria 37,260 534.1 1,174,216
Malaysia 35,784 112.0 4,575,809
Ecuador 35,745 205.7 913,798
Belgium 31,952 278.2 4,265,296
Japan 31,328 24.8 9,405,007
Thailand 30,736 44.1 4,534,017
Pakistan 30,403 14.0 1,539,275
Greece 30,327 283.0 3,729,199
Bangladesh 29,174 17.9 1,980,974
Tunisia 28,691 245.3 1,052,180
Iraq 25,247 64.2 2,359,755
Egypt 24,723 24.6 515,645
South Korea 24,576 47.5 18,413,997
Portugal 24,149 235.2 5,171,236
Netherlands 22,383 129.1 8,203,898
Bolivia 21,958 190.7 931,955
Slovakia 20,147 369.4 2,551,116
Austria 20,068 226.1 4,499,570
Myanmar 19,434 36.0 613,659
Sweden 19,124 185.9 2,519,199
Kazakhstan 19,018 102.7 1,396,584
Paraguay 18,994 269.6 660,841
Guatemala 18,616 112.1 921,146
Georgia 16,841 452.7 1,660,429
Sri Lanka 16,522 75.8 664,181
Serbia 16,132 232.3 2,033,180
Morocco 16,120 44.2 1,226,246
Croatia 16,082 395.4 1,151,523
Bosnia and Herzegovina 15,807 478.9 379,041
China 14,633 1.0 2,144,566
Jordan 14,068 139.3 1,700,526
Switzerland 13,833 161.3 3,759,730
Nepal 11,952 41.8 979,835
Moldova 11,567 435.2 520,321
Israel 10,984 121.3 4,391,275
Honduras 10,906 111.9 427,718
Lebanon 10,469 152.7 1,116,798
Australia 10,085 39.8 8,291,399
Azerbaijan 9,717 96.9 793,388
North Macedonia 9,327 447.7 314,501
Saudi Arabia 9,211 26.9 797,374
Lithuania 9,175 329.2 1,162,184
Armenia 8,629 291.7 423,417
Cuba 8,529 75.3 1,106,167
Costa Rica 8,525 168.9 904,934
Panama 8,373 197.2 925,254
Afghanistan 7,725 20.3 182,793
Ethiopia 7,542 6.7 489,502
Ireland 7,499 151.8 1,600,614
Uruguay 7,331 211.8 957,629
Taiwan 7,025 29.5 3,893,643
Belarus 6,978 73.7 982,867
Algeria 6,875 16.0 266,173
Slovenia 6,655 318.7 1,041,426
Denmark 6,487 111.5 3,177,491
Libya 6,430 94.9 502,189
Latvia 5,860 306.4 837,182
Venezuela 5,735 20.1 527,074
Palestinian Territories 5,662 120.8 662,490
Kenya 5,656 10.8 334,551
Zimbabwe 5,558 38.0 255,726
Sudan 4,952 11.6 62,696
Finland 4,875 88.3 1,145,610
Oman 4,628 93.0 390,244
Dominican Republic 4,383 40.8 611,581
El Salvador 4,150 64.3 169,646
Namibia 4,065 163.0 169,247
Trinidad and Tobago 4,013 287.7 167,495
Zambia 4,007 22.4 326,259
Uganda 3,621 8.2 167,979
Albania 3,502 122.7 282,690
Norway 3,337 62.4 1,448,679
Syria 3,150 18.5 55,934
Nigeria 3,144 1.6 257,637
Jamaica 3,144 106.6 143,347
Kosovo 3,140 175.0 229,841
Cambodia 3,056 18.5 136,296
Kyrgyzstan 2,991 46.3 201,101
Botswana 2,750 119.4 322,769
Montenegro 2,729 438.6 241,190
Malawi 2,646 14.2 86,600
Estonia 2,591 195.3 580,114
Kuwait 2,555 60.7 644,451
United Arab Emirates 2,319 23.7 952,960
Mozambique 2,212 7.3 228,226
Mongolia 2,179 67.6 928,981
Yemen 2,149 7.4 11,832
Senegal 1,968 12.1 86,382
Cameroon 1,931 7.5 120,068
Angola 1,900 6.0 101,320
Uzbekistan 1,637 4.9 241,196
New Zealand 1,534 31.2 1,374,535
Bahrain 1,495 91.1 631,562
Rwanda 1,460 11.6 131,270
Ghana 1,452 4.8 166,546
Singapore 1,419 24.9 1,473,180
Eswatini 1,416 123.3 73,148
Madagascar 1,401 5.2 65,787
DR Congo 1,375 1.6 91,393
Suriname 1,369 235.5 80,864
Somalia 1,361 8.8 26,803
Guyana 1,256 160.5 67,657
Luxembourg 1,094 176.5 265,323
Cyprus 1,075 89.7 515,596
Mauritius 1,004 79.3 231,036
Mauritania 984 21.7 60,368
Martinique 965 257.0 195,912
Guadeloupe 955 238.7 168,714
Fiji 866 97.3 65,889
Tanzania 841 1.4 35,768
Haiti 837 7.4 31,677
Bahamas 820 210.5 36,101
Réunion 812 91.3 422,769
Ivory Coast 805 3.1 83,679
Laos 757 10.6 210,313
Malta 748 148.8 105,407
Mali 737 3.7 31,176
Lesotho 699 32.9 33,938
Belize 680 174.2 64,371
Qatar 679 24.0 385,163
Papua New Guinea 662 7.5 44,728
French Polynesia 649 232.4 73,386
Barbados 477 166.2 84,919
Guinea 443 3.5 37,123
Cape Verde 405 73.6 61,105
French Guiana 401 137.9 86,911
Burkina Faso 387 1.9 21,044
Congo 385 7.2 24,128
Saint Lucia 383 209.5 27,094
Gambia 365 15.5 12,002
New Caledonia 313 108.8 64,337
Niger 310 1.3 9,031
Maldives 306 57.6 182,720
Gabon 305 14.0 47,939
Liberia 294 6.0 7,497
Curaçao 278 176.5 44,545
Togo 275 3.4 37,482
Nicaragua 242 3.7 14,690
Grenada 232 207.1 18,376
Brunei 225 51.9 167,669
Aruba 222 208.8 41,000
Chad 193 1.2 7,426
Djibouti 189 19.4 15,690
Mayotte 187 70.3 37,958
Equatorial Guinea 183 13.5 16,114
Iceland 179 49.5 195,259
Channel Islands 179 103.9 80,990
Guinea-Bissau 171 8.9 8,369
Seychelles 167 171.1 44,847
Benin 163 1.4 27,216
Comoros 160 18.8 8,161
Andorra 153 198.3 44,177
Solomon Islands 153 22.8 21,544
Antigua and Barbuda 141 145.2 8,665
Bermuda 140 219.0 16,162
South Sudan 138 1.2 17,722
Timor-Leste 133 10.3 22,959
Tajikistan 125 1.3 17,786
Sierra Leone 125 1.6 7,704
San Marino 115 339.6 18,236
St Vincent and the Grenadines 114 103.1 9,058
Central African Republic 113 2.4 14,649
Isle of Man 108 127.7 36,463
Gibraltar 104 308.6 19,633
Eritrea 103 2.9 9,805
Sint Maarten 87 213.6 10,601
Liechtenstein 85 223.6 17,935
Sao Tome and Principe 74 34.4 6,064
Dominica 68 94.7 14,852
Saint Martin 63 165.8 10,952
British Virgin Islands 63 209.8 6,941
Monaco 59 151.4 13,100
Saint Kitts and Nevis 43 81.4 6,157
Burundi 38 0.3 42,731
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba 37 142.4 10,405
Turks and Caicos Islands 36 94.3 6,219
Cayman Islands 29 44.7 27,594
Samoa 29 14.7 14,995
Faroe Islands 28 57.5 34,658
Bhutan 21 2.8 59,824
Greenland 21 37.3 11,971
Vanuatu 14 4.7 11,389
Kiribati 13 11.1 3,236
Diamond Princess cruise ship 13 712
Tonga 12 11.5 12,301
Anguilla 9 60.5 3,476
Montserrat 8 160.3 1,020
Wallis and Futuna Islands 7 61.2 454
Palau 6 33.3 5,237
Saint Barthelemy 6 60.9 4,697
MS Zaandam cruise ship 2 9
Cook Islands 1 5.7 5,774
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 1 17.2 2,779
Falkland Islands 0 0.0 1,815
Micronesia 0 0.0 38
Vatican 0 0.0 29
Marshall Islands 0 0.0 18
Antarctica 0 11
Saint Helena 0 0.0 4

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This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals for each country.

** The past data for new cases is a three day rolling average. Due to revisions in the number of cases, an average cannot be calculated for this date.

Source: Johns Hopkins University and national public health agencies

Figures last updated: 5 July 2022, 08:59 BST

The perspective from Asia. A different trajectory:

Deaths 433 | Death rate 0.8 per 100,000 people | Total cases 24,703

Life is almost back to normal thanks to a series of measures carried out with wide public support, writes Laura Bicker in Seoul.

South Korea was one of the first countries to be hit by the coronavirus. At one point it had the worst outbreak of Covid-19 outside mainland China. But within weeks, doctors and health officials managed to get the rate of infections under control from a peak of 1,000 cases a day in late February to no reported cases by the end of April.

They did this through mass testing and strict contact tracing. The country had test kits ready within two weeks of the first reported case on 20 January. Covid-19 tests have always been easily available at clinics and hospitals, and South Korea was the first to pilot drive-through testing. They even came up with space-age telephone-box test booths where the physician was behind clear screens to keep them safe from infected patients.

Contact tracing is done through surveillance. Once a case is reported, phone and bank records are pored over by tracing teams to try to find out where the infected person has been and crucially who've they've been near. Text messages are sent to everyone who may have come into contact with the virus, urging them to get a test.

This has been one of the most controversial measures, but the majority of people have accepted it and prioritised controlling the pandemic over their own privacy. There are also strict quarantine measures. Everyone in isolation must use a phone app to record their temperature and symptoms, daily. Everyone coming into the country must serve two weeks quarantine and take a test.

Going anywhere without a mask is unthinkable here. You would be the odd one out. It is mandatory on public transport and taxis. But all these measures combined have kept this country out of lockdown and the economy largely open. When infections rise, stricter measures are put in place. Schools opened in May but some were closed again after a surge in local cases. Nightclubs and karaoke bars were shut after outbreaks and have remained closed until this week. They are only allowed to reopen if they adhere to strict disinfection guidelines. At one point there was a 21:00 curfew on restaurants in the capital, Seoul. But now, social distancing guidelines are back to their lowest level. There have also been a number of financial support programmes in place.

There has been broad support for South Korea's coronavirus measures. The current administration won a landslide election in April for the first time, which most believe was due to the effective handling of the pandemic.

There are still cases reported every day, but life is almost as back to as normal as it can be. We can see friends, eat out, have drinks and travel within the country. Pupils are back at school. Whatever concerns there have been over privacy, most have seen it as a price worth paying.

Deaths 27 | Death rate 0.5 per 100,000 people | Total cases 57,866

Singapore has so far avoided the second spikes seen in Europe, writes Karishma Vaswani.

As well as the test, trace and isolate doctrine of other countries, Singapore's mandatory mask wearing, strict penalties for rule breaking, and technological tools like a "trace together" token, have helped control the virus.

The token, which can be worn on a lanyard, uses Bluetooth to look for other users' devices. It tells you if you've been in contact with someone who has been infected - so you can isolate yourself.

Singapore was the first country in the world to have a contact-tracing phone app, but the token is seen as more reliable. Initially, it was targeted at the elderly - who may not have smartphones - and young. But now everyone's being encouraged to get one.

Elderly man with Bluetooth dongle
SILVER GENERATION OFFICE (SGO)
The token tells you if you've been in contact with someone who has been infected - so you can isolate yourself

The city-state, with a population of 5.6 million, was quick to react at the start of the pandemic, after a first round of infections sparked by tourists from Wuhan in China. Through a meticulous contact tracing and quarantine programme, numbers were kept low. As early as March, it was seen to have beaten the virus, and earned the "gold standard" moniker for its efforts. Lockdown had been avoided.

But a mass outbreak in the dormitories of low-paid migrant workers dashed those hopes. In April, Singapore went into lockdown for almost two months, costing the economy US$10bn per month in losses, according to some analysts.

Six months on, things appear to have been brought under control. But officials are more modest now about their success.

The majority of those with Covid are being housed in community isolation facilities - rather than hospitals. These are dedicated to people who aren't severely ill so don't need to be in hospital.

Key to this strategy is the opening up the economy - and ensuring that trade dependent, open-bordered Singapore can bounce back when international travel starts again. The economy is slowly restarting, and the plan is to move into the next phase of its recovery programme, by allowing more people to meet in conferences, and weddings.

Still, businesses have suffered. To help them Singapore has doled out almost $70bn in wage subsidies, loans to small- and medium-sized companies, and cash handouts to Singaporeans to supplement their living expenses.

But the government is extremely concerned about how the economy will fare as Singapore depends on external trade, tourism and travel to keep growth here strong. Officials say the economy could contract by 7% this year - the worst performance since independence.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has warned the country is at a "critical juncture" in its economic development. Independent economists say Singapore's contraction could be much worse, if a vaccine isn't developed soon.

Statistics as of Saturday 10 October, from Johns Hopkins University, except France