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Source: Reuters
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  • Europe has become the only region to tally more than 50 million total cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic
  • The recent surge in new cases across the continent is in part being blamed on the more virulent Delta strain of the virus
  • The countries reporting the highest number of new daily cases are the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands and France
  • Fears the acceleration of the pandemic could erode the economic recovery caused major European stock indices to tumble on Monday

Europe has become the first region worldwide to surpass more than than 50 million cases of COVID-19 after the Delta variant became the predominant strain of the virus on the continent.

In just 194 days, the total number of cases in Europe doubled from 25 million to the new sobering milestone, according to a tally by Reuters.

The countries recording the highest number of new cases, as calculated by their seven-day average, are the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands and France.

While the UK spearheads the unenviable leaderboard – adding nearly 50,000 new cases to its records on Monday – the country has begun the week by lifting restrictions to a chorus of both celebrations and chilling forecasts.

The majority of countries currently experiencing a high burden of COVID-19 are concentrated in Western Europe, as shown on the above map, noting that figures for certain countries had not yet been published at the time of writing.

European markets take downward turn

As concerns mounted that the acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic on the continent could erode the economic recovery, major European stock indices took a dive on Monday.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 lost 2.3 per cent and Italy's FTSE MIB tumbled 3.34 per cent as COVID-19 case numbers in the country rose, a climb linked to the European soccer championship celebrations.

The London Stock Exchange's FTSE 100 index shed 2.34 per cent to close at its lowest point in more than three months. Among the index's worst performers was BP, which slipped 4.7 per cent.

The decline in the oil giant's share price was paralleled by the fall in crude prices on the back of a decision to lift oil production levels by the OPEC + group of nations.

Meanwhile the German DAX fell 2.62 per cent as the country also faced a mounting death toll and major damage from what is being described as once-in-a-generation flooding caused by torrential rain in Germany and Belgium.

Similarly the French CAC sunk 2.54 per cent as protesters took to the streets across the country to voice opposition to new COVID-19 public safety measures such as compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers.

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