Europe and US facing new round of shutdowns amid COVID surge

Covid-19

Europe and US facing new round of shutdowns amid COVID surge

Thursday, October 29, 2020

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Germany yesterday moved to shut down restaurants, bars and theatres all over again and France weighed demands for another nationwide lockdown as a new wave of coronavirus infections in Europe and the United States wipes out months of progress against the scourge on two continents.

The resurgence and the growing clampdown sent a shudder through financial markets, and stocks slumped.

“We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as she announced a four-week partial lockdown starting Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron planned an address last night as many French doctors urged a nationwide lockdown, with 58 per cent of the country's intensive care units now occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria and Greece have closed or otherwise clamped down again on bars and restaurants and imposed other restrictions such as curfews and mandatory mask-wearing.

Both Italy and Germany set records for new infections yesterday, with Italy reporting nearly 25,000 in a single day and Germany logging almost 15,000.

“We are deep in the second wave,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “I think that this year's Christmas will be a different Christmas.”

In the US, where practically every state is seeing a rise in cases, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker banned indoor dining and drinking and limited the number of people gathering in one place.

The long-feared surge is blamed in part on growing disregard for social distancing and mask-wearing, as well as the onset of cold weather, which is forcing people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

After a devastatingly lethal spring, Europe seemed to have beaten back the virus over the summer. Its success was seen as a reproach to the United States and an example of what the US could accomplish if Americans would just stop their political infighting and listen to the scientists.

The virus is blamed for more than 250,000 deaths in Europe and about 227,000 in the US, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

More than two million new confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported globally in the past week, the World Health Organization said. That is the shortest time ever for such an increase. Forty-six per cent of the new cases were reported in Europe.

In the US, more than 71,000 people a day are testing positive on average, up from 51,000 two weeks ago. Cases are on the rise in all but two states, Hawaii and Delaware, and deaths are climbing in 39 states, with an average of 805 people dying in the US per day, up from 714 two weeks ago.


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