Belgian funeral home full with COVID deaths

In this funeral home, just south of Belgium’s capital Brussels, almost all deaths are for those who contracted COVID-19.

What’s interesting -- according to funeral director Stephane Geeurickx -- is this wasn’t the case during the first wave.

"In March and April, we observed a higher-than-usual number of deaths but they were not necessarily directly linked to COVID-19 - perhaps they were indirectly linked but that's hard to determine.”

Geeurickx added that thanks to stringent protective measures none of his eight employees had asked to stop working during the pandemic or had become infected.

Belgium -- a country of 11 million -- is in the grip of the second wave of the virus and has one of the world's highest COVID-19 mortality rates.

It has also seen one of Europe's sharpest jumps in cases this autumn.

With just 10% of the world's population, Europe accounts for almost 25% of the 1.2 million deaths globally.

Five countries - Britain, France, Spain, Italy, and Russia - account for almost three-quarters of those European fatalities.

At around 50,000 Britain has the highest death toll in Europe, with a current daily average of more than 20,000 newly reported cases.

France is the worst-affected country inside the EU. Paris's ICU provision was at 92% capacity last week.

Facing similar pressures, Belgian and Dutch hospitals have been forced to send some severely ill patients to Germany.

Governments across Europe have been forced to order control measures -- including imposing local curfews, closing non-essential shops, and restricting movement -- to ease pressure on hospitals and protect their economies.