ROME | Anger was mounting Monday, in Italy, because of the new measures introduced in the face of the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic to “save Christmas”, while several European countries have imposed curfews or are considering lockdowns in the face of the second wave.
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Faced with the resurgence of the pandemic, in places out of control, European countries are imposing increasingly strict measures, and are considering the use of new containments.
Responding to statements by US President Donald Trump’s chief of staff who hinted Sunday that the United States was giving up trying to control the disease and betting instead on drugs and vaccines, the WHO boss said “dangerous to give up controlling ”the pandemic.
“We must not give up and that is why we say that if we agree with the chief of staff that protecting the most vulnerable is important, giving up taking control (of the pandemic) is dangerous” , said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In Italy, new measures introduced in the face of the spreading COVID-19 epidemic to “save Christmas” have been greeted with anger.
The decision of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to close restaurants and bars from 6 p.m. and all theaters, cinemas and sports halls for a month has been called a “confession of failure” by his critics and pushed scientists wonder if that would be enough to stem the spread of the virus.
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In Rome, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would officiate without worshipers for Advent and Christmas masses, as he did at Easter, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
The disease continues to spread across Europe and Spain has imposed a new state of emergency as well as nightly curfews. Catalonia (North-East) is even considering confinement of the population at home on weekends and the neighboring region of Aragon has decided to seal off its territory.
In France, where a new daily record with more than 52,000 additional cases of COVID-19 was recorded on Sunday, the prospect of new confinement is taking shape.
A second “brutal” wave could even be “stronger than the first”, alarmed Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the Scientific Council which guides the government.
The number of new positive cases fell to more than 26,000 on Monday, but more than 2,700 COVID-19 patients are now hospitalized in intensive care, with 357 new serious cases having been admitted to these wards in the past 24 hours, a figure that had not been reached since April.
In Germany, the world famous Nuremberg Christmas market, which attracts some two million visitors, has been canceled this year.
The Slovenian government for its part announced the tightening from Tuesday of the partial confinement in force and strengthened border controls.
In Norway, new restrictions will come into force in Oslo, where the compulsory wearing of a protective mask is notably extended. Bars in the capital, already forced to stop serving at midnight, will also no longer be able to accept new customers after 10 p.m.
And in Belgium, where the number of contaminations has tripled in five weeks, rising to 321,031 cases, the school holidays for All Saints’ Day have been extended and schools forced to adapt to the strong progression of the virus so as not to risk worsen an already “dramatic” situation in health care structures.
The pandemic has killed at least 1.15 million people worldwide since the end of December, according to a report established Monday by AFP from official sources. Almost 43.1 million cases have been officially diagnosed.
The United States is the most bereaved country with 225,239 dead, followed by Brazil (157,134), India (119,014), Mexico (88,924) and the United Kingdom (44,896).
However, some see the end of the tunnel: Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, should come out of its confinement this week after about four months of restrictions which have been very expensive.
In contrast, the United States saw a record number of new cases of COVID-19 this weekend, with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accusing President Donald Trump’s government of waving “the white flag of defeat” after admitting that he “was not going to control the pandemic”.
The European Union has decided for its part to reduce the physical meetings of officials and experts, in favor of videoconferences, because of the increase in the number of contaminations in Brussels.
In Wales, the restrictions have also caused anger and confusion. No right to buy books or baby clothes, even in open stores: confined since Friday and limited to purchases of “essential” products, more than 65,000 Welsh people signed a petition on Monday demanding the abandonment of these rules deemed “disproportionate”.
On the vaccine front, the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that its formula under development is eliciting an encouraging immune response from young adults and the elderly.
“It is encouraging to see similar immune responses between the elderly and young adults,” said a spokesperson for the laboratory working on the vaccine with the University of Oxford.