COVID-19: Europe hardens its arsenal of restrictions, France exceeds one million cases

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Several Eastern European countries are imposing new restrictions on Saturday in the wake of the rest of the continent which has already hardened its arsenal of measures against COVID-19, whose number of cases has exceeded the threshold of one million in France .

• Read also: Virus: Belgium relies on collective effort to avoid re-containment

• Read also: COVID-19: The surge in cases in Europe continues this week

The WHO has sounded the alarm again: “too many countries” in the northern hemisphere are recording an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases. Result: hospitals and intensive care units are close or have exceeded their capacity limits, the organization warned.

Across the European continent, the number of infections exceeds 8.2 million and more than 258,000 people have died from the new coronavirus. The pandemic has killed at least 1,139,406 people around the world since the end of December, according to a report established by AFP on Friday. And a record of new contaminations, nearly 80,000 in 24 hours, was recorded by the United States.

The situation is deteriorating in Eastern Europe: in front of the outbreak of contaminations on its territory, the whole of Poland passes Saturday in “red zone”, a measure which until then concerned only the big cities and their surroundings.

Restaurants and primary schools will be partially closed, and high school and college students will practice distance education. Wedding ceremonies will be prohibited and the number of people strictly restricted in shops, transport and churches.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also called on all people over 70 to stay at home.

In neighboring Slovakia, a nighttime curfew comes into effect on Saturday, until 1er November. And in the Czech Republic, another neighboring country where the rate of contaminations and deaths is the worst in Europe over the last two weeks, partial containment is already in place until November 3.

Partial containment also applies from Saturday in Slovenia, whose Minister of Foreign Affairs Anze Logar was declared positive for the coronavirus.

The two main cities of Greece, Athens and Thessaloniki, will be subject to a nighttime curfew from Saturday, and the mask becomes compulsory inside and outside.

“It annoys me”

On the rest of the continent, the situation is particularly worrying in France which on Friday passed the threshold of one million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the epidemic. The situation continues to deteriorate with 42,032 new cases recorded during the day, a new record since the generalization of large-scale tests.

Health authorities now fear a second wave “worse than the first” and have said they are considering local re-containments.

Faced with this outbreak, the government has extended the night curfew (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.), which since Friday evening concerns 46 million people in Paris and in the main cities, or two-thirds of the population, for six weeks.

On a terrace of a bar-restaurant in Strasbourg (east), customers savor their “last moments of freedom” before the curfew, a measure generally respected, but not always well accepted.

“It annoys me. In addition, it will have no effect on the epidemic: it is not as if the virus began to circulate at 9 pm ”, plague Anne Dobelmann, a 22-year-old student.

In Spain, which has officially exceeded the threshold of one million cases of coronavirus, the head of government Pedro Sanchez estimated on Friday that the real number “exceeds three million”. Shortly before, several regions had announced further tightening of restrictions, calling on the central government to impose a nighttime curfew.

In Belgium, a new turn of the screw was given Friday by the government for sports and recreation. The authorities of the five provinces of Wallonia, the French-speaking part, however decided on Friday to toughen the measures decided at the federal level and the mayors of the 19 municipalities of Brussels will decide on Saturday whether they follow the movement.

Resumption of vaccine trials

In the United Kingdom, the most bereaved country in Europe with more than 44,000 dead, Wales was reconfined on Friday until November 9.

Ireland, on the other hand, has reconfined its entire population for six weeks since midnight Wednesday, closing non-essential businesses. In Italy, Lazio, the region of Rome, on Wednesday became the third in the country, along with Lombardy and Campania, to establish a curfew.

And Denmark, for its part, announced a strengthening of its measures to restrict gatherings and the extension of the wearing of masks on Monday.

On the research side, two experimental vaccine trials against COVID-19 will be able to resume in the United States after apparent false alarms, increasing the chances of having one or more vaccines authorized by the beginning of the year 2021 .

The vaccine has become an electoral issue in the race for the presidency of the United States, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Friday promised that it would be “free for everyone” if elected.

In Latin America, restrictions will continue in Argentina for two weeks to stem the spread of contaminations: “We are far from having solved this problem”, declared Friday the president, Alberto Fernandez.

More than 10,000 dead in Germany since the start of the epidemic

The number of deaths recorded in Germany since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic has exceeded the 10,000 people mark, according to official data published in the country on Saturday.

So far, 10,003 deaths have been recorded by the Robert Koch health watch institute, which has counted 49 more deaths than the day before for a total of 403,291 people infected with the coronavirus.

Clashes in Naples between the police and hundreds of young people opposed to the curfew

Clashes pitted the police against hundreds of demonstrators in Naples Friday evening protesting against the night curfew and the threat of new confinement to curb the outbreak of coronavirus contamination.

Around 11 p.m., at the start of the curfew which runs every night until 5 a.m. in Campania, the region of Naples (south), several hundred people, often young, lit smoke bombs, set bins on fire and threw projectiles on riot police deployed in the city center.

Calls had been launched on social networks to challenge the curfew decreed from Friday evening in Campania, and also in force in Lazio, the region of Rome, and in Lombardy, the region of Milan (north).

“If you close, you pay”, could we read on makeshift signs brandished by demonstrators worried about the economic consequences of the curfew and a new confinement that the president of the region of Naples, Vincenzo De Luca, has announced wanting to impose as soon as possible.

“We are on the verge of tragedy, we need a national lockdown”, alarmed Vincenzo De Luca while Italy has recorded nearly 20,000 new positive cases for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, including 2 300 in Campania.

If scientists and regional governors urge him to take urgent measures, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he is currently opposed to a new general confinement.

Italy, which spring containment precipitated in its worst post-war economic recession, has recorded nearly 500,000 positive cases since the start of the pandemic, including 37,059 deaths, according to figures from the Ministry of Health published Friday.

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