COVID-19 Europe: first glimpses indicate that coronavirus locking works while Austria relaxes its limits

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(Bloomberg) – Spain reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in more than two weeks and German infections were the least in six days, clear evidence that the spread of the deadly disease is slowing in the developing countries most affected in Europe.

The most recent figures from Spain, Italy, Germany and France suggest that containment measures that have slowed down millions of workers are having an effect. While most leaders have pleaded for patience, Austria has become the first country in Europe to relax the restrictions and Denmark may follow later.

After weeks of measures to limit contact between people, European governments are finding more and more evidence that the closure of much of the economy contains the disease. Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom recorded the most deaths in the world, accounting for almost 60% of all deaths.

New infections in Spain were 4,273, the lowest since March 22, according to data from the Ministry of Health on Monday. The number of deaths in Europe’s largest epidemic increased by 637, the lowest number of deaths per day since March 24.

German infections increased by 4,031 to over 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With 140 deaths, it was the smallest daily increase in almost a week. The next few days will show if the trend continues. New cases and deaths in Germany have steadily declined over the weekend, as regional health officials have been slower to report figures.

Seville, Spain – April 05: A man wearing a protective mask reads a newspaper while walking during Palm Sunday April 05, 2020 in Seville, Spain. Spain has ordered all non-essential workers to stay at home for two weeks to help slow the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which has killed more than 12,000 people in the country.


Marcelo del Pozo / Getty Images

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said it was essential to reduce the number of infections before making decisions on relaxing the rules on social distancing. The concern is that patients require ventilation for a longer period than expected “because more and more elderly people are infected,” Helge Braun told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung Sunday.

Reports of epidemics linked to Covid-19 in nursing homes and hospitals are increasing, and the death toll is relatively high in some of these epidemics, the German health authority said. Europe’s largest economy continues to have the third highest number of confirmed cases in Europe.

Spain and Italy – the epicenters of the pandemic in the region – have the highest number of deaths in the world. This means that the authorities must weigh any attempt to restart parts of the economy against the risk of reigniting the epidemic.

Public opinion in Spain on the government’s handling of the crisis has steadily deteriorated. According to a GAD3 poll released Monday by Spanish newspaper ABC, only 27.7% of voters approve of the efforts of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s administration, up from 35.1% three weeks ago.

“These are the lock-outs that help us,” Silvio Brusaferro, director of the Italian Institute of Public Health, said in Rome on Sunday. Rules designed to limit contact between people have led to “a significant slowdown in the spread,” he said.

Italy reported 525 new deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily number in more than two weeks, and new confirmed cases have also declined. France has reported 518 additional deaths, the least since Tuesday.

Protesters perform yoga movements during a national action as part of the motorcycle Wir hinterlassen Spuren – #LeaveNoOneBehind to protest against the external borders of Europe and ask to prevent a “corona disaster” on April 5, 2020 the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in the midst of the new COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.


Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

In Austria, small retailers, hardware stores and garden stores will reopen next week after national foreclosure measures have successfully slowed the spread. The number of active coronavirus patients has decreased, with more recoveries than new positive tests for three consecutive days.

Despite the easing of restrictions, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called on the Austrians to sacrifice the traditional Easter celebrations with friends and family this weekend and to respect the rules of social distancing at least until the end of April. If the spread of Covid-19 were to be contained, more stores could reopen in May and schools in mid-May.

“We reacted faster and more restrictively than other countries,” said Kurz in Vienna. “We will also emerge from the crisis more quickly if everyone continues to stick to the measures. “

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen could also announce the first steps towards a return to normal life on Monday. However, she said any slight increase in the number of cases would be followed by an immediate return to strict restrictions.

Italy is entering its fifth week of lockout, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on NBC on Sunday “Meet the Press” that he could not say when he would be up.

It is expected to announce revised rules and deadlines by the end of next week, Il Messaggero reported. The Italian measures have been extended until at least April 13, and those of Spain will now be in effect at least until April 25.

The number of new confirmed cases in Italy rose to 4,316 on Sunday, a level lower than the previous day. The total number of infections reached 128,948 cases, slightly less than Spain.

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