Outbreaks in Germany and South Korea point to downside risks


The South Korean capital closed more than 2,100 bars and other nightclubs on Saturday due to a new cluster of coronavirus infections, and Germany hastened to contain new epidemics in slaughterhouses, highlighting the dangers. authorities face as they try to reopen their economies.

Elsewhere, Belarus, which has not locked despite an increase in the number of cases, has seen tens of thousands of people celebrating Victory Day, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 This contrasted with Russia, where a silent event occurred an empty red square.

Around the world, the United States and other hard-hit countries are trying to reduce the barriers to business and public activity without triggering a second wave of lethal infection.

Both Germany and South Korea have conducted extensive testing and contact tracing and have been praised for avoiding the mass deaths that have engulfed other countries. But even there, authorities are struggling to strike a balance between saving lives and saving jobs.

In South Korea, where a drop in the number of new cases has prompted the government to relax, Seoul has closed thousands of nightclubs, hostesses and discotheques after dozens of infections have been linked to club goers who came out last weekend as the country eased its social distancing. guidelines.

Many of the infections were related to a 29-year-old man who had visited three nightclubs before being tested positive.

Health officials in Germany have faced epidemics in three slaughterhouses in what was seen as a test of the government’s strategy to deal with any resurgence of the virus as restrictions are relaxed.

Meanwhile, governments have been subject to further scrutiny of their handling of the crisis.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Europe must admit that it “was not well prepared” for the epidemic. In the U.S., internal government emails obtained by the Associated Press show that a decision to set aside detailed advice from the country’s best disease control experts for the reopening of communities during the epidemic has come of the highest levels of the White House.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 3.9 million people and killed more than 275,000 people, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University based on data from governments.

Italy, hit hard, saw people go back to the streets for their traditional appetizers and revel in the good weather when restrictions were relaxed. In some cases, people have gone too far for the authorities.

Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala warned that “a handful of lunatics” were threatening the city’s economic recovery and threatened to close the city’s trendy Navigli district after crowds of young Milanese were seen at aperitif time, ignoring the rules of social distancing.

In Rome, the Campo dei Fiori flower and vegetable market was lively on Saturday morning, the first weekend the Italians were allowed outside for more than work and necessities. The Campo piazza, the center of nightlife for a long time, also came back to life during the evening aperitif.

But confusion over what is now allowed and what does not create frustration for business owners.

Carlo Alberto, owner of TabaCafe, an Argentinian empanada bar that sold cocktails to a few customers on Friday, said that since it reopened this week, it has been threatened with a fine by the police due to the crowd that had formed in front of his bar. .

“Am I supposed to send them home?” They need a caretaker here to do it, “he said. “The laws are not clear, the decree is not clear. You don’t know what you can do. “

Elsewhere, Pakistan authorized the reopening on Saturday of shops, factories, construction sites and certain other businesses, while more than 1,600 new cases and 24 deaths have been reported. Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government was canceling the restrictions because it could not support millions of families who depend on daily wages.

The government has warned that controls will be re-imposed if the public does not comply with social distancing guidelines.

Others have imposed new restrictions: Kuwait in the Middle East announced a lockdown from Sunday to May 30.

The Spaniards learned on Friday evening that health authorities would allow regions that have demonstrated that their hospitals are ready to handle a second wave of infections to reduce their blockages.

In some parts of Spain, mainly heavily rural areas, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open 50% of their terrace places on Mondays, and churches, theaters and museums may also reopen with frequentation limits.

But Madrid and Barcelona, ​​the country’s largest cities, both seriously affected by the virus, will remain locked.

“The pandemic is evolving favorably, but there is a risk of a new epidemic which could generate a serious disaster,” Spanish health official Fernando Simon said on Saturday. “Personal responsibility is vital. “

The epidemic forced Russian President Vladimir Putin to celebrate Victory Day without the usual pomp of a military parade in Moscow’s Red Square.

The celebration of this year had to be particularly important, as it was the 75th anniversary. Instead, Putin placed flowers on the grave of the unknown soldier, and a display of military power was limited to an overview of 75 warplanes and helicopters.

Belarus, however, held a military parade in front of large crowds in the capital, Minsk, despite a sharp increase in coronavirus infections. Belarus has not imposed restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, and authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko dismissed the concerns as “psychosis”.


Gera reported from Warsaw, Poland, and McDonald’s from Beijing. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.


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