Europe became the first region worldwide to cross 50 million coronavirus disease infections on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as the more contagious Delta variant spurred a record surge in daily new infections.
The region is recording a million new infections about every eight days and has reported nearly 1.3 million deaths since the pandemic began.
The Delta variant, which is significantly more contagious than the original new coronavirus, has been detected in about 100 countries and is now the dominant variant worldwide. (Graphic on global cases and deaths)
European markets faced a jolt on Monday as shares sank more than 2 percent, their worst session in nine months, on worries that the fast-spreading Delta variant could slow the global economic recovery.
“Investors are extremely worried that… another lockdown could be a month or two round the corner,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. “Coronavirus is spreading fast again and the airlines, restaurants and leisure companies may not get the strong summer trading they’ve long hoped for.”
Europe remains one of the worst-affected regions worldwide and has reported 27 percent of global infections and 31 percent of global deaths.
It took 194 days for Europe to go from 25 million to 50 million, while the first 25 million infections were reported in 350 days, according to a Reuters tally.
Russia, the worst-affected European country, is on the verge of crossing 6 million.
The United Kingdom ended over a year of lockdown restrictions on Monday but the so-called “Freedom Day” was ruined by surging infections and grim forecasts. Restrictions are being implemented again in European countries after recent increases.