PARIS—The coronavirus has resurged in Europe’s nursing homes, killing thousands of older people and forcing facilities to make a difficult choice: impose another period of crushing isolation or risk greater exposure to the virus.
Nursing home outbreaks have dashed hopes that their residents could be shielded from the virus when it is spreading quickly in society at large. As cases soared across Europe this fall, nursing home personnel and visitors brought the virus in with them despite strict sanitary rules, infecting tens of thousands of residents, who are most vulnerable to the pathogen because of their age and frailty.
Countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands that closely track nursing home deaths have recorded more than 9,000 since the beginning of October. Other nations such as Italy and Spain that don’t yet have data on nursing home deaths have reported outbreaks in hundreds of facilities in recent weeks.