France, Spain reopen as top 4M virus cases – The Manila Times

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PARIS: The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 4 million as some of the hardest hit countries prepared on Sunday to lift the blocking restrictions despite concerns over a second wave of infections.

Governments around the world are trying to stop the spread of the disease while looking for ways to ease the pressure on their economies, which are facing a historic downturn with millions of people pushed into unemployment.

But with the death toll already over 277,000, nations want to avoid further waves of infections that could overwhelm their health systems.

SPANISH SURF People surf on an open beach for sporting activities after the government-imposed lockdowns in Barcelona on Saturday. AP PHOTO

In the midst of the deluge of deaths, some European countries cited signs of progress which, in their view, justified prudent measures towards a sense of normalcy.

French officials said Saturday that the daily death toll of 80 was the lowest since early April, while deaths in nursing homes also fell sharply as the nation prepared to loosen restrictions on the public traffic imposed eight weeks ago.

The easing, due to start on Monday, has received mixed reactions.

“I was very scared” about the reopening, said Maya Flandin, manager of a bookstore in Lyon. “It is a big responsibility to have to protect my staff and my customers.”

French health officials have warned that “the epidemic remains active and evolving,” and that social isolation must be maintained even if restrictions are relaxed.

In Spain, about half of the population will be allowed out on Monday for limited socialization, and restaurants will be able to offer outdoor services as the country begins a gradual transition that will last until June.

Fears continued to resurface, however, and authorities excluded Madrid and Barcelona – two hotspots for 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) – from the first phase.

Belgium is also easing restrictions on Monday, and in parts of Germany bars and restaurants reopened on Saturday with further easing scheduled for Monday.

Overall, the situation in Europe is still far from normal.

Britain plans to announce Sunday that all visitors abroad will be subject to a mandatory two-week quarantine, and the European Union has warned against opening borders to travelers from outside the bloc .

Across Europe, commemorations marking 75 years since the surrender of Nazi Germany have been canceled or reduced.

“Phenomenal” recovery?
Global economic figures point to the sharpest slowdown in nearly a century, with companies forced to close and supply lines severely disrupted, and pressure on leaders around the world is mounting to find a way out.

In the United States, the country with the highest number of deaths in the world, President Donald Trump was strongly criticized by his predecessor Barack Obama, who declared on a leaked tape that Trump’s handling of the crisis was a ” absolute chaotic catastrophe ”.

Faced with his re-election in November, Trump insisted that next year would be “phenomenal” for the US economy, urging reopening in a country where the virus continues to kill more than 1,000 people every day.

The United States lost 20.5 million unprecedented jobs in April, bringing unemployment down to 14.7%, the highest level since the Great Depression.

Health experts have warned that while case growth may slow in some European and Asian countries, other countries, many of which are impoverished, are only in the early stages of their outbreaks.

AFP

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