The Italian region of Tuscany is only part of Europe that has new restrictions on corona viruses
On Saturday, a series of new restrictions to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections were announced or went into effect from Austria to Greece, Italy to Portugal as the global death toll surged over 1.3 million.
Globally, more than 53 million people have been infected by COVID-19, which is widespread across America and Europe and is forcing governments to take more drastic measures despite the potential economic devastation.
Austria joined a growing trend, announcing that schools and non-essential businesses would close starting Tuesday, just two weeks after a partial lockdown was imposed.
“There are still many who say that infections do not occur in schools, shops or services,” said Chancellor Sebastien Kurtz at a press conference.
“But the truth is that the authorities are no longer able to track 77 percent of new infections, which means they no longer know where the contamination is occurring.”
Greece, fighting a saturated national health system, announced it would close all schools after imposing a nationwide curfew from Friday.
“The closing of elementary schools was the last thing we wanted to do. This is a measure of how serious the situation is,” said Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias. Secondary schools were already closed.
In Italy, the regions of Tuscany and Campania, of which Florence and Naples are the respective capitals, plunged into “red zones” of strict restrictions that now cover 26 million of the 60 million inhabitants.
Bars and clubs in the Big Apple, the epicenter of the US spring outbreak, had to close at 10 p.m.
“There is no other way to reduce the death toll,” said Health Minister Roberto Speranza as the country’s death toll rose by 544 to 44,683, one of the worst in Europe.
New antivirus restrictions also went into effect in Ukraine on Saturday, with all non-essential stores closed for the weekend.
And Lebanon entered a new two-week lockdown that saw hospitals in the crisis-hit country nearly full.
Bars in New York, the epicenter of the spring outbreak in the United States, were due to close at 10 p.m. on Friday. Schools could switch to online classes as early as Monday.
In the United States, the country hardest hit by COVID-19, there were 188,858 more cases and 1,596 more deaths on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“Don’t kill the economy”
In several German cities there were protests against the forced wearing of masks. Police said they had scattered nearly 1,000 people in Frankfurt with water cannons.
Greece has ordered all schools to be closed
In France’s Riviera resort of Nice, 1,500 took to the streets to call for more coherent restrictions to fight the disease.
Hundreds of protesters also came to Portugal and opposed a weekend curfew imposed on seven out of ten of its 10 million residents.
The curfew prohibits driving on public roads after 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“The pandemic is underway and we need to be protected, but without killing the economy,” said Carla Torres, 33, who works in the Lisbon hospitality industry.
Poland was the youngest country to report a record 548 coronavirus deaths within 24 hours, just days after the government decided against introducing a nationwide quarantine.
The European Medicines Agency lifted the darkness adding to growing hopes that an effective vaccine might soon be available.
World map showing the number of Covid-19 deaths by country on November 14th at 1100 GMT
The EU body expects to deliver a positive opinion on a vaccine by the end of the year if the test results turn out to be positive. That would allow distribution from January.
Once the testing and distribution hurdles are overcome, another challenge awaits: will people take a vaccine?
“I fear that not enough French people are vaccinated,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Monde newspaper.
French restaurant and bar owners announced legal action against government measures, which they closed from the end of October.
Experts fear that the public’s growing distrust of scientific advances could render effective treatments against the pandemic unusable
Diwali grew darker
In India, on the biggest Hindu holiday of the year, the pandemic and chronic pollution cast a shadow over Diwali celebrations for hundreds of millions on Saturday.
In the smog-shrouded capital New Delhi, fireworks have been banned for the Festival of Light and while people still rushed the markets, traders said COVID-19 scared shoppers from spending.
The pandemic and chronic pollution cast a shadow over the Diwali celebrations for hundreds of millions in India on the biggest Hindu holiday of the year
With 8.7 million cases, India has the second highest number of coronavirus infections in the world after the US.
At Vineet Garg’s gold and jewelry store near Delhi’s Connaught Place, the lights went out despite an “open” sign.
“It is a waste of electricity to turn on the lights,” he said. “People don’t buy in stores … they’re too worried to have fun.”
Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah is the youngest football star to be forced to home isolation after testing positive after his brother’s wedding in Egypt.
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© 2020 AFP
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