Several Eastern European countries are imposing new restrictions on Saturday in the wake of the rest of the continent, where the Covid-19 epidemic has now killed more than 10,000 people in Germany and has infected more than a million in France.
The restrictions also caused clashes in Italy, in Naples, between the police and hundreds of young people protesting against the curfew decreed Friday evening in the region of this city. “If you close, you pay”, could one read in particular on the signs of demonstrators worried about the economic consequences.
The WHO has sounded the alarm: “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 coronavirus. Of which some 10,003 in Germany, a country so far relatively spared from the pandemic but now hit hard by the epidemic rebound.
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 limited to shops, transport, and churches.
In neighboring Slovakia, a nighttime curfew comes into effect on Saturday, until November 1. 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 confinement also applies from Saturday in Slovenia, whose Minister of Foreign Affairs 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 passed the threshold of one million cases of Covid-19 on Friday since the start of the epidemic. The situation continues to deteriorate with 42,032 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours, a new record.
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 (9:00 p.m. to 6:00 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’s not as if the virus began to circulate at 9 pm”, plague Anne Dobelmann, a 22-year-old student.
In Italy, in Naples, the curfew decreed on Friday aroused anger and concern. At around 11 p.m., several hundred people started to set smoke bombs, set bins on fire, and projectiles at riot police deployed in the city center.
“If you close, you pay”, could we read on makeshift signs brandished by demonstrators worried about the economic consequences of the curfew and new confinement that the president of the region of Naples, Vincenzo De Luca, has announced wanting to impose as soon as possible.
In addition to the region of Naples, curfews are in force in Italy in Lazio, the region of Rome, and in Lombardy, the region of Milan (north).
In Spain, which has officially passed 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 a further tightening of restrictions, calling on the central government to impose a nighttime curfew.
In Belgium, the authorities of the five provinces of Wallonia, the French-speaking part, 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 confined on Friday until November 9.
Ireland, on the other hand, has refined its entire population for six weeks since midnight Wednesday, closing non-essential businesses.
And Denmark 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 alerts, increasing the chances of having one or more vaccines authorized by the start of 2021.
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.