France, Germany Impose New Lockdown Measures As COVID-19 Cases Soar | Voice of America

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A rising tide of new coronavirus cases has prompted French and German leaders to impose a new round of lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.In a televised speech on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a one-month national lockdown that will come into effect on Friday. Macron said restaurants, bars, cafes and other non-essential businesses will be closed, while residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, errands and doctor’s appointments.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday announced a similar package of measures in her own month-long lockdown order after a meeting with the leaders of the country’s 16 federal states. Besides restaurants and bars, all gymnasiums, theaters and opera houses will be closed by order of Merkel, which will come into effect on Monday, while the majority of businesses, shops and hairdressers will be allowed to remain open.

Schools in both countries will remain open during their respective lockdowns.

The restrictions were announced by Macron and Merkel as the two countries grapple with a record number of new COVID-19 cases virtually every day – with Germany posting nearly 15,000 new cases on Wednesday – creating a situation that has pushed their respective health care systems to their limits.

France and Germany join several other European countries that have been forced to impose a new set of restrictions to deal with a growing second wave of the virus as the cold season approaches in the northern hemisphere.

As of early Thursday, there were more than 44.4 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including more than 1.1 million deaths. India has reached the milestone of more than 8 million new cases of the coronavirus in total, just behind the United States, with 8.8 million confirmed cases in total.

As efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine continue, US President Donald Trump’s administration has said it will ensure everyone in the United States can be vaccinated for free.

Seema Verma, head of the federal government’s Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs, announced Wednesday that the agency will cover the cost of any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Verma also said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would cover a greater portion of the cost of any new COVID-19 treatment. Private health plans will also be prohibited from charging their clients anything for the administration of the vaccine.

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