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

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 bets 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 continent of Europe, the number of infections exceeds 8.2 million and more than 258,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus. The pandemic has killed at least 1,139,406 people around the world since the end of December, according to an AFP report 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: faced with the outbreak of contamination on its territory, the whole of Poland on Saturday fell into the “red zone”, a measure which until then only concerned large 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 goes into effect on Saturday, until 1er November. And in the Czech Republic, another neighboring country where the rate of contamination and death is the worst in Europe over the past two weeks, partial containment is already in place until November 3.

Partial containment also applies from Saturday in Slovenia, whose Foreign Minister Anze Logar has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Greece’s two main cities, Athens and Thessaloniki, will be subject to a nighttime curfew from Saturday, and the mask becomes mandatory 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 not have an effect on the epidemic: it is not as if the virus starts circulating 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 on at the federal level and the mayors of the 19 communes of Brussels will decide on Saturday whether they follow the movement.

Resumption of vaccine trials

In the UK, the most bereaved country in Europe with more than 44,000 dead, Wales re-confined Friday through November 9.

Ireland has re-confined its entire population for six weeks since midnight Wednesday, shutting down 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 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,” President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday.

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