The Coronavirus seems to be the never-ending story for the world right now. Just as first waves of the virus are dying down and countries have been lulled into a sense of optimism for economic recovery, then comes the threat of a second wave. Many economies have been badly affected across the board, and now countries must get back up and continue to fight the good fight against this deadly pandemic. As much as the world is desperately clinging to the notion that a vaccine will soon be developed, the reality is that there is still no vaccine available and second waves are gathering speed quickly. So the real question is, which countries are being impacted the worst, and how will Europe deal with these second waves in order to maintain an economic balance?
Fresh outbreaks are rife
According to the latest statistics from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Controls (ECDC), there are only four European countries which are not at crucial Coronavirus case levels – Germany, Finland, Cyprus and Norway. The ECDC calculates the risk factor at 20 cases per 100,000 people within a seven day average time, and anything over this is considered as a high risk of infection. Countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and France are sitting at well over 100 cases per 100,000 people, which is increasing at an alarming rate. In an attempt to curb the fresh outbreaks of the virus, countries are implementing new protocols. Paris has been classified as a “maximum alert” zone, and is preparing for a new lockdown, while the Czech Republic has gone into a state of emergency, and Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team has recommended that the whole country be put on the maximum levels of restrictions.
Local lockdowns on the rise
Many countries in Europe have been enforcing stricter mask-wearing rules, limiting the amount of people in public gatherings and locking down specific regions. Towards the end of September, the World Health Organization’s regional director Hans Kluge said, “More than half of European countries have reported a greater than 10% increase in the past two weeks.” Europe is acutely aware of the devastating economic effects of the virus, and this second wave therefore prompts action that is both targeted and well planned, in order to avoid further disruption.2
Measures like local lockdowns are becoming more prevalent, and in fact, reactions to the second waves are slightly different. We know a little more about the virus now and how it behaves, meaning nations don’t necessarily need to lockdown countrywide and can instead focus their approaches on the highest risk areas.2 The nature of the second wave is different, as the 25 to 49-year-old age group seems to be experiencing the highest number of infections so far, which means that those being affected are usually less at risk than the older generations.3 Thus, many new restrictions focus on bars and public places where young people are likely to frequent, as opposed to blanket nationwide lockdowns.2 Europe waits with bated breath to see what these second waves will bring, and how effective their targeted responses will be.
Trading in the time of Covid
Many traders and those with an eye on the financial markets turn to the performance of key indices to gauge the “health” of an economy, such as Germany’s DAX index, which tracks 30 of the biggest and most actively traded companies in Germany—Europe’s largest economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the DAX index plunged a massive 39% between February 19th and March 18th, before gradually rising 53% by October 7th. And even within that timeframe, there were plenty of moments of volatility driven by the various elements of market uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.