France leads coronavirus outbreak in Europe just as schools reopen – Article

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(Bloomberg) –The surge in new coronavirus cases in France far outweighs increases in other European countries and comes just as millions of children are returning to school, leaving the government to weigh the means to respond.

New cases jumped to nearly 9,000 on Friday, the biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. This was almost twice the advance in Spain and around four times that of Italy, with daily cases in both countries reaching or near the highest gains in months. Infections are also on the rise in Germany and the UK

Part of the French peak is linked to the increase in tests to more than a million per week, and policymakers can be reassured that hospitalizations and deaths are contained. The number of patients in intensive care was 473 on Friday, up from around 7,000 at the peak. Yet the outbreak comes as 12 million students return to school, creating pressure to act on a government reluctant to consider a new national lockdown.

“I can not imagine a total renewal and the president does not want to consider a general reclusion”, declared Saturday the Minister of Health Olivier Veran on BFM TV. “The lock was a lid on an overflowing cauldron. Today we have other means to fight against the spread of the virus, and above all we are able to follow it.

New measures entered into force this week. Masks are now mandatory for companies with groups working in confined spaces and cities from Paris to Marseille are making masks mandatory, even outdoors. Children over 11 should also cover their face.

France tightens mask protocols in a context of gaining viral infections

Some things remain sacrosanct. The Tour de France started in Nice last week after a two-month delay. Yet, with strict health protocols in place, the Cyclists’ Grand Départ was only watched by 100 people.

Across Europe, cases have jumped due to a combination of intensified testing and an easing of lockdown measures that have allowed millions of people to travel this summer. Relaunching wide lockdowns may not be an option for leaders struggling to revive crippled economies that face growing public fatigue, and even open opposition to restrictions that have sparked protests in countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.

The economy can continue to take priority over lockdowns as long as hospitalizations and deaths remain limited. Many of the new infections affect younger, healthier people, who tend to recover faster and with fewer complications. President Emmanuel Macron’s government announced a € 100 billion ($ 118 billion) stimulus package on September 3, as France attempts to revive an economy that was expected to contract by 11% this year.

Macron throws 100 billion euros to revive the French economy

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday the country would favor local restrictions over a nationwide lockdown. New cases on Saturday increased by 1,695, down slightly from the four-month high of 1733 on Friday. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 83, was hospitalized this week after testing positive for Covid-19.

“We will not find ourselves in a situation to order a general lockdown; at worst, we will have to intervene in a targeted manner, with restrictive measures for narrowly defined areas, ”Conte told a conference on Saturday.

Conte does not want to allow fans into football stadiums for the Serie A season starting at the end of the month. He also denied responsibility for reopening nightclubs during the summer, which is believed to have contributed to the increase in the number of cases. He blamed regional governments for this decision, and his administration re-ordered the clubs to close in mid-August.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on August 25 that another lockdown was not on the table, putting the answer in the hands of regional authorities. Spain has experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, helping to contain the spread of the pandemic which has caused more than 29,000 deaths. Cases rose by more than 5,000 on Friday, the highest in four months.

© 2020 Bloomberg LP



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