The “mass movement” of European holidaymakers keen to relax after lockdowns lifted this summer is largely to blame for the continent”s second wave of coronavirus infections, a public health expert told Euronews.
“Anybody who drives down the motorways in France in August will see the lines of Dutch caravans moving south, almost like a migration of animals in Africa,” said Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
“It’s quite incredible, and that just does not happen in other parts of the world.”
In some cases, Europeans brought COVID-19 to countries that had been relatively unscathed in the first wave of the pandemic, such as Greece, McKee explained. In other cases, he said, they brought the virus back to countries that had done rather well, such as Germany and Austria.
This mass summer holiday exodus is a quintessentially European phenomenon, McKee argued, and it partly explains why countries in Asia, by comparison, have not seen a similarly dramatic second wave this autumn.
“You don’t see all Americans moving to Florida, for example, at one time. You don’t see everyone flocking to the beaches in Malaysia, or wherever in Asia, at the same time.”
Within Europe, countries that put in place solid systems to find, test, trace, isolate and support infected people are now faring somewhat better in terms of curbing the spread of coronavirus, “though everyone is struggling right now,” said McKee.
He argued, much like the European Commission has, that the continent needs to move toward a European Health Union, with a common approach when it comes to tracking and containing infections.
“Having differences leads to confusion, especially among people who are skeptical,” McKee said.
Watch the interview in the video player above.