The clock is ticking for France to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control

France became the youngest European country on Wednesday to tighten its anti-corona virus measures, imposing a curfew in Paris and eight other cities from Saturday, while Germany and Ireland also tightened restrictions.

“We have to act. We have to curb the spread of the virus,” President Emmanuel Macron told public television, announcing a shutdown between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. that will remain in effect until six weeks.

Other major French cities such as Lyon, the Mediterranean port of Marseille and the southwest of Toulouse will also impose curfews, affecting around 20 million people out of a total population of around 67 million.

Just minutes before Macron’s announcement, his government had announced that it would extend the state of health.

With over a million coronavirus deaths and nearly 40 million cases worldwide, regions like Europe that suppressed the first outbreak are once again faced with tough decisions on how to control a new wave without the economic devastation caused by nationwide lockdowns.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced stricter measures for gatherings and the wearing of masks.

“I am convinced that what we do now will determine how we weather this pandemic,” said the chairman.

Covid-19: Paris, 8 other French cities under curfew

Map of France with the Paris region and eight other cities that will be under curfew from October 17th between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and valid for four weeks

The number of new infections in Germany continued to increase on Wednesday, reaching more than 5,000 cases within 24 hours – a level that has not been reached since the largest European economy was locked in the spring.

“We are in a situation where, in my opinion, we can still flatten the exponential growth,” said Lothar Wieler, head of the German agency for disease control. “But we all have to make an effort for that.”

Worsening of the situation

In Spain, bars and restaurants in the northeastern region of Catalonia will be closed for the next 15 days as the country battles one of the highest infection rates in the European Union, with nearly 900,000 cases and more than 33,000 deaths.

In the Netherlands, where new measures went into effect, including restrictions on alcohol sales and new mask requirements, people drank and danced in the last few minutes before all bars, restaurants and cannabis coffeeshops closed to pump techno music.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced a series of new curbs along the border with the British province of Northern Ireland, including the closure of non-essential retail stores, gyms, pools and leisure centers.

Iranians in five major cities, including the capital, Tehran, face travel restrictions

Iranians in five major cities, including the capital, Tehran, face travel restrictions

Earlier Wednesday, Northern Ireland’s decentralized government announced plans to close pubs and restaurants for four weeks, tighten restrictions on social gatherings and extend the halftime break to counter the rising number of cases there.

Infection rates “have to be turned down now or we will be in a very difficult place very soon,” First Secretary Arlene Foster told legislators in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Lockdown ‘disaster’

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also under increasing pressure to take stricter measures to reduce spiral rates in England, including a two-week lockdown on “circuit breakers”.

Johnson said a new lockdown across the UK was a “disaster” but refused to rule it out as the government’s science advisory board advocated a temporary lockdown.

In Italy, authorities recorded 7,332 new cases on Wednesday – the highest daily number the hardest hit country has seen to date.

Angela Merkel also announced stricter measures on wearing masks

Angela Merkel also announced stricter measures on wearing masks

Rome has already put in place new, stricter rules to control the resurgence of the virus, including ending parties, amateur soccer games, and nightly bar snacks.

Outside Europe, the US death toll rose 794 to 216,597 in one day, according to Johns Hopkins University, just three weeks before a pivotal election in which pandeik is central.

Another 52,160 had been infected in the past 24 hours, an increase of 0.7 percent.

Iran announced on Wednesday new travel restrictions for the capital Tehran and four other major cities as well as new one-day records for both Covid-19 deaths and new infections.

And the death toll in neighboring Iraq since the pandemic began has been 10,000.

At least 1,089,039 people worldwide have died from the coronavirus since it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. This is evident from an AFP balance sheet using official figures. At least 38.3 million cases have been registered worldwide.

Hopes for a rapid vaccine were hampered by the suspension of trials for two candidates

Hopes for a rapid vaccine were hampered by the suspension of trials for two candidates

In online discussions, the G20 finance ministers and central bankers agreed to extend a moratorium on debt repayment by the world’s poorest countries for another six months, and followed suit in the spring of another extension.

The virtual talks, hosted by current G20 President Saudi Arabia, took place a day after the International Monetary Fund warned that global GDP would shrink 4.4 percent in 2020 and that the damage caused by the pandemic would be felt for years.

Drug setbacks

As Europe imposed new restrictions, hopes of vaccines or treatments for relief suffered when two clinical trials in the US were suspended.

U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly said Tuesday it had suspended its phase 3 study of its antibody treatment because of an unspecified incident, the second less than 24 hours after Johnson & Johnson encountered a similar problem with its vaccine candidate .

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had registered a second vaccine called “EpiVacCorona” that was being developed by a top-secret Siberian laboratory to follow its first “Sputnik” burst.

Germany agrees to tighten virus rules if infections increase

© 2020 AFP

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