France, Poland and Ukraine impose new lockdown measures | News on the coronavirus pandemic
Poland, France and Ukraine have introduced partial lockdowns as they fight the surge in coronavirus infections.
Residents of Poland, parts of France including Paris and the Ukrainian capital Kiev faced new restrictions on Saturday, with most shops closed and people invited to work from home.
The imposition of new brakes comes as the pace of vaccination rollout in the European Union remains slow and several member states face a third wave of the virus.
In France, the government introduced new measures after an increase in COVID-19 cases in Paris and other parts of northern France.
Under the new measures, non-essential businesses in Paris are closed, while schools remain open and outdoor exercise is allowed up to 10 kilometers (six miles) from home.
As with previous lockouts, a form will be required to justify why someone left their home in areas subject to the new restrictions.
President Emmanuel Macron insisted on Friday that the word “lockdown” was not appropriate to describe the government’s strategy.
“What we want is to put a stop to the virus without locking ourselves in. It is not locked,” he said during a meeting at the Elysee Palace. “Strictly speaking, the term lockdown is not fair,” he added.
The government maintains that the measures are needed to relieve pressure on intensive care units which are about to overflow.
Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler report in Paris said that although these measures are more flexible than previous ones, the government insisted it was important to follow them.
“They are asking employers to ensure that as many employees as possible are working from home… the government is saying… that parts of the country are firmly committed to a third wave.
“COVID infections have increased in recent weeks, almost 40,000 per day in recent days, it is certainly a lot more than 10 days ago, when it was around 20,000 per day.
“And in Paris, doctors say the intensive care units are almost full, in fact some hospitals in the city have had to transport their patients out of the city to hospitals in different parts of France,” said Butler.
Meanwhile, in Germany cases are increasing at a “very clearly exponential rate,” a top public health institute said on Friday, with many expecting new restrictions on work and social life to be introduced. in the next few days.
The Robert Koch Institute has reported 17,482 new infections in the past 24 hours and 226 deaths in Germany, with the seven-day incidence rate climbing to 96 per 100,000 people despite several months’ hiatus of large swathes of life public.
German leaders agreed earlier this month to impose further restrictions in areas where the seven-day incidence rate exceeded 100.
“We are in the third wave of the pandemic, the numbers are increasing, the percentage of viral mutations is high,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Germany should not hesitate to introduce emergency measures and return to a hard lockdown if necessary.
Frustration with the COVID-19 borders spread on Saturday, with scuffles at a large anti-restriction protest in the German city of Kassel, and thousands of people joined a similar protest in Liestal, Switzerland. .
“End the lockdown” and “Corona rebels” read the placards held by protesters during the protest in Kassel, organized by a group which drew far left and far right activists as well as anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.
“I think that Europe and many other countries in the world are, or at least the people perceive it, that they are in a never-ending cycle of rising epidemics and decreasing epidemics, and this cycle is accompanies subsequent lockdowns and relaxations, “Marc Van Ranst, professor at the University of Louvain and the Rega Institute for Medical Research, said.
“It puts a lot of pressure on the population to keep morale up, it’s not easy … and I think the only solution to stop this endless cycle is going to be the vaccination program,” he said. added.
Globally, COVID-19 has killed 2.7 million people while more than 69 million have recovered according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.