COVID-19 alarm bell rings in Europe

A massive ongoing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic across Europe has prompted many countries to tighten their preventive measures, including reimposing lockdowns, to stem the spread of the disease.

On Wednesday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that a nationwide lockdown will be reimposed from Friday, adding that the "virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated".

France on Wednesday reported 36,437 new cases, bringing the national tally to 1,235,132 with 35,785 deaths, according to figures released by French Public Health Agency.

Under the new lockdown, the only authorized out-of-home trips will be "to go to work, a medical appointment, to provide assistance, shopping or to take the air", said Macron.

The restrictive measures will affect universities, libraries, bars, cafes, restaurants and gyms.

Public gatherings will be banned, and cultural ceremonies and conferences suspended.

But unlike the first lockdown, nurseries, primary schools and middle schools will remain open, said the President, arguing that "our children would not be lastingly deprived of education, of contact with the school system."

Also on Wednesday, Germany announced a partial lockdown starting from November 2.

The country registered a daily record high of 14,964 new cases, taking the national caseload to 464,239, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's disease control agency, said.

The death toll rose by 85 to 10,183, according to the RKI.

Under the new round of lockdown, entertainment and leisure activities will be largely prohibited as bars, restaurants, theatres, operas and concert venues will have to close until the end of November.

Health Minister Jens Spahn told public broadcaster SWR on Wednesday that it is time to break the Covid-19 wave now.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday called on the European Union (EU) member states to shoulder responsibility at all levels to fight the second wave of the pandemic.

Von der Leyen announced new proposals made by the Commission to enhance the EU-level coordination to address the health crisis, including improving the flow of information to allow informed decision-making, establishing more effective and rapid testing, making full use of contact tracing and warning apps across borders, among others.

She underlined the necessity of wearing a mask, good hand hygiene, as well as avoiding crowds and indoor spaces lacking good ventilation.

Last week, Ireland decided to impose a nationwide lockdown again due to the resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, The Spanish authorities have restricted movement in the regions of Andalusia, Castile-La-Mancha, Castile and Leon and Murcia due to the worsening epidemiological situation amid the pandemic, according to the regional governments.

People of all professions unite to defeat corona

Soldiers in Poland are giving coronavirus tests. American National Guard troops with medical training are headed to the Czech Republic to work alongside doctors there.

A Czech university student is running blood samples to labs, and the mayor of the capital is taking shifts at a hospital.

With cases surging in many central European countries, firefighters, students and retired doctors are being asked to help shore up buckling health care systems.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal