European countries on Saturday sought to prevent people from traveling in sunny Easter weather and wondered how and when to start easing multi-week layoffs from public life. The US death toll from coronavirus has come close to that of Italy, the highest in the world.
In Asia, South Korea has announced plans to attach tracking bracelets to people who challenge quarantine orders. The Japanese government has appealed nationwide to avoid bars, clubs and restaurants, expanding a previously announced measure for seven urban areas, including Tokyo.
In Europe, the good weather over much of the continent provided an additional test of people’s discipline during the long Easter weekend.
Italian authorities have stepped up controls, particularly in the northern region of Lombardy, which has been most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. Roadblocks have been installed on major arteries inside and outside Milan and along motorway exits to deter people from going on vacation.
“” Don’t be silly, “said Domenico Arcuri, Italian special commissioner for viral emergencies. “Don’t go out, continue to behave responsibly as you have done until today, use your head and your sense of responsibility.” “
He added: “The virus has not been defeated, but we are on the right track, we see the indicators but not the end of the tunnel. In fact, the end of the tunnel is still far away. ”
In Spain, which recorded its smallest daily increase in deaths in almost three weeks, 510, police have installed thousands of roadblocks across the country.
In Britain, police have been asked to closely monitor rallies in parks and by the sea on what was to be the hottest day of the year. Police seized a motorbike from a pilot on a non-essential trip to central England.
The epicenter of the pandemic has long since moved to Europe and the United States, which now has by far the largest number of confirmed cases, with more than half a million. As of Saturday morning, the death toll in the United States of over 18,700 was just lower than that of Italy.
“I understand intellectually why this is happening,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, where deaths rose on Friday from 777 to more than 7,800. “This does not facilitate acceptance. “
However, New York officials said that the number of people in intensive care had declined for the first time since mid-March and that hospitalizations were slowing: 290 new patients in one day, against a daily increase of more from 1000 last week. Cuomo said that if this trend continues, New York may not need the overflow field hospitals that officials have strived to build.
President Donald Trump has said he will not lift US restrictions until conditions are secure, but announced the creation of a task force on the opening of our country and said, “I want to ” open as quickly as possible. “
The Easter holidays coincide with growing hope in Europe for the start of a slow return to normal, as infection rates are slowing in many cases. At the same time, politicians and public health officials warn that they must act with caution, otherwise the virus could start again.
Some countries are already planning small first stages of closure. Austria aims to reopen its small stores on Tuesday.
Spain is preparing to back down from the strictest measure on Monday when authorities allow workers in certain non-essential industries to return to factories and construction sites after an almost two-week halt.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government will distribute reusable masks at metro stations and other public transportation hubs.
“We believe that with these measures, we will prevent a jump in infections,” said Illa.
Italy continued to include all non-essential manufacturing activities in an extension of its national foreclosure until May 3. But Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte raised hopes that a certain industry could reopen sooner if conditions allow.
Arcuri said the release from the lockout will include an increase in antivirus testing, the deployment of a voluntary contact finder and mandatory blood tests as Italy seeks to implement a system of “immunity passports” .
German officials are expected to examine on Wednesday how to proceed after several weeks of restrictions on public life, which expire on April 19. The authorities have issued a cautious note, stressing the risk of losing the country’s achievements.
“A second stop would be difficult to manage, economically and socially,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung Winfried Kretschmann, the state governor of Baden-Württemberg, told the daily.
India has extended its foreclosure of the nation of 1.3 billion people by two weeks.
But Iran has reopened government offices and businesses outside the capital after a brief nationwide foreclosure to help contain the worst epidemic in the Middle East. Tehran businesses will be allowed to reopen next weekend.
Meanwhile, in Africa, where infections are on the rise, there is concern that the poor health system and lack of help from developed countries facing their own crisis may lead the virus to spread uncontrollably.
In Congo, corruption has left the population largely impoverished despite the mineral wealth, and distrust of authority is so entrenched that health workers were killed in an Ebola epidemic that has not yet been entirely defeated.
Worldwide, confirmed infections have exceeded 1.7 million, with more than 100,000 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 400,000 people have recovered.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially the elderly and people with health conditions, it can cause serious symptoms like pneumonia.
Britain reported a one-day high of 980 new deaths on Friday – greater than anything seen in Italy or Spain. At the same time, the data suggests that the number of hospital admissions in Britain is stabilizing.
According to his office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first major world leader confirmed to have COVID-19, continued to recover in a London hospital, where he was able to take short walks between rest periods.
In China, where the pandemic started in December, the number of new daily cases has dropped considerably, allowing the ruling Communist Party to reopen factories and shops.
China is also the largest producer of surgical masks and other medical products and has increased production in the aftermath of the epidemic, but there have been complaints that poor or poor quality products are sold abroad. Chinese regulators have said that fans, masks and other supplies will now be subject to quality inspections.
McDonald’s reported from Beijing. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.