Empty streets, closed bars, postponed friends’ meetings and telecommuting if possible. The image is repeated in various parts of Europe where more drastic measures came into force this Saturday to stop the second wave of the new coronavirus pandemic.
(Lea: Two vaccines against the coronavirus could be ready by the end of the year)
New infections have risen 44% this week on the continent, but have declined in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, according to an AFP tally. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that the situation is “very worrying” in Europe, which accumulates more than 248,000 deaths and almost 7.2 million infections.
In France, the curfew decreed by the government between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am came into effect on Saturday in various regions of the country, including Paris, affecting some 20 million people.
(Lea: Covid has already killed more Americans than the last five wars)
Although the government and many doctors argue that action is necessary now because hospitals may collapse again, many restaurant owners are upset by the blow to their businesses.
“Closing at 9:00 pm will have no effect (on the virus). They are not attacking it in the right way,” said Gerard, a manager of a restaurant in Toulouse (south).
In the United Kingdom, the most mourning country in Europe with 43,400 deaths, half of the population of England, that is, about 28 million people, have been living since this Saturday under new restrictions.
Gatherings of family and friends who do not live under the same roof are prohibited in London and other parts of England. In the Lancashire region (North West), which together with Liverpool are the two areas on “very high” alert, the restrictions are even stronger.
“FORGET THE TRAVEL”
Germany, where 9,767 people have died since the virus appeared, was seen as an example of pandemic management, but has registered 7,830 cases and 33 deaths in 24 hours, a figure that was not seen even in the first wave, although then not so many tests were done.
“Forget the trips that are not necessary, the celebrations that are not essential. Stay home whenever possible. What will happen in winter, what will happen at Christmas, will be decided in the days and weeks to come,” said this Saturday the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to her fellow citizens.
In Italy, where on Friday the symbolic threshold of 10,000 new cases in 24 hours was surpassed, the Lombardy region, in the north, the main focus of the outbreak, will close its bars and restaurants as of Saturday and suspended all sporting events. The Vatican announced on Saturday that a case of coronavirus was registered in the residence of Santa Marta, where Pope Francis lives.
In Belgium, with one of the highest death rates in the world, with 89 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, cafes and restaurants will also close from Monday for a month and there will be a curfew at night.
“Week after week, the numbers are doubling, increasing relentlessly,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said. The Foreign Ministers, Sophie Wilmès (Belgium) and Alexander Schallenberg (Austria, announced this Saturday that they tested positive for the virus.
In Greece, there are concerns about the spread of infections in rural areas in the north. Contrary to European countries, Israel is preparing to lift some restrictions on Sunday.
It will now be possible to circulate outside the home beyond 1 km, go on a visit respecting the limit of less than 10 people inside and 20 outside. The nurseries, beaches, parks, and the Wailing wall and the Esplanade of the Mosques will reopen.
WAITING FOR A VACCINE
The new coronavirus pandemic has caused at least 1,105,691 deaths worldwide and almost 40 million infections. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the most affected region in the world, with 377,952 deaths and almost 10.5 million infections, the government of Mexico said on Friday that it proposed to the United States to extend until November 21 the restrictions on transit not essential in the common border to contain the coronavirus.
Mexico registers more than 840,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 85,704 deaths, and the United States, the country with the highest number of fatalities, has 218,000 deaths and 8 million infections.
It emerged on Friday that two US companies, Pfizer and Moderna, hope to apply for emergency approval for their vaccines at the end of November, good news for the United States at a time when it is experiencing a new upturn in cases. But until the precious vaccine arrives, limiting contacts is the most effective tool that “we have right now to fight the pandemic,” Merkel recalled this Saturday.