Tue, 24 Nov 2020

Europeans Face More Restrictions as COVID Cases Surge

Voice of America
24 Oct 2020, 07:05 GMT+10

As Europe tries to curtail a second wave of the coronavirus, many residents across the continent are facing more restrictions in their daily lives.

Parts of Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Slovakia and other countries are imposing curfews and limits on social interaction as case numbers spike.

Countries scrambled to look for ways to slow the spread but also to avoid the blanket lockdowns from earlier this year that have taken a massive economic toll and have little public support.

Spreading faster

The second wave has some leaders sounding the alarm. One French official said the virus was spreading faster now than it did during the first wave.

"The virus is circulating more quickly than in the spring," said epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, who sits on the scientific council advising the French government.

In Wales, for example, First Minister Mark Drakeford this week announced a severe two-week lockdown in which all nonessential businesses such as shops, restaurants and bars must shut down from late Friday until November 9.

"A firebreak period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and much more damaging national lockdown," he said.

Other countries are taking less severe measures. Belgium, one of the hardest hit countries, restricted social contacts and banned spectators from sporting events. Poland said it would close restaurants and bars and limit public gatherings to five people. In Spain, some called for the central government to impose nighttime curfews.

Despite the jump in cases, hospitalizations in Europe are "still less than half of the peak in March and April" but are rising steadily each week, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, The New York Times reported.

The Times reported that in the U.S., about 41,000 COVID sufferers were in hospitals, which represented a 41% increase from the past month. The northern Rocky Mountain states and the upper Midwest were seeing spikes in reported cases.

Researchers around the world are racing to develop a safe, effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million people around the globe and sickened more than 41 million.

Nations with 1M cases

Meanwhile, the number of countries with more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases rose to seven, with France and Spain the latest nations to reach the mark.

According to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States remained the country with the highest number of infections: more than 8.4 million total cases. Despite a massive increase in testing, however, the positivity rate in the U.S. was well below April peaks.

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