“We all have the ability within us, through our behavior, to protect ourselves, to protect others and to slow the circulation of the virus. ”
It came as records were broken elsewhere in Europe in the past 24 hours. Several countries have recorded their highest daily increases in coronavirus cases, and others have sought to stem the disease with partial lockdowns.
Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands were among the countries to set new individual records as they each had thousands of new COVID-19 infections.
There have been 6,638 recorded cases in Germany, 344 more cases than the previous record set on March 28, while Italy added 8,804 more cases to its tally.
COVID-19 testing capacity has increased significantly across Europe since the virus first wave, and the daily death rate has yet to reach the levels seen in the spring.
Switzerland, meanwhile, recorded 2,613 cases on Thursday – its second highest number beaten only by the tally from the day before.
More than 7,500 cases have also been reported in the Netherlands and 8,000 in Poland, where governments have implemented partial lockdowns.
In an announcement on Thursday afternoon, the Polish government said it would limit the opening hours of bars and restaurants between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., while sporting events would also be restricted.
Schools in designated red zones – where COVID-19 has hit the hardest – will be required to undertake distance education only. Warsaw is included in this zone.
A busy day of new cases across the continent has arrived as experts increasingly warn of easing approaches to the disease.
Dr Hans Kluge, head of the European office of the World Health Organization (WHO), said death rates across the block could be “four to five times higher than in April” by early April. next year if the pandemic is not systematically taken seriously.
He further estimated that 280,000 lives could be saved in Europe by February if 95% of people wear masks and adhere to strict rules on social gatherings.
“The evolution of the epidemic in Europe raises serious concerns,” he said Thursday.
“But we don’t have to hold back with relatively smaller actions in order to avoid the same very painful damaging actions that we saw in the first peak. ”
Despite this, the number of deaths across the continent is currently “five times lower” than in April, according to the WHO, which attributed the figure to the increase in tests and the increase in cases among people. younger and less vulnerable.
The increase in cases, however, always results in a corresponding increase in hospital admissions.
In France, the four-week state of emergency was re-established on Wednesday, with Castex revealing the extent of the measures the following afternoon.
From midnight on Saturday, a curfew will come into force in and around Paris, and in eight other metropolises.
These include Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, St Etienne and Toulouse.
It will affect an estimated 19 million people and comes after the national incidence rate over the past ten days fell from 107 to 190 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Castex said that rate had increased further to “particularly alarming levels” in some major cities.
Similar restrictions were also announced in London – home to 9 million people – and will come into effect on Friday evening.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament on Thursday that people from different households would be banned from meeting indoors, while use of public transport would be discouraged.
Pubs and restaurants will be able to remain open but will still have to adhere to a 10 p.m. curfew.
Portugal also recorded a record daily increase this week.
The western European nation reported a peak of 2,072 cases on Wednesday when it announced a “state of calamity”, although it appears to be coping better than other countries with the second wave.
Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has also been revealed to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Looking ahead, Belgium is the next country that could tighten its restrictions against the virus, with Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke suggesting these could be decided at a meeting with federal and regional leaders on Friday.
The country of 11 million people has an incidence rate of 423 infections per 100,000 population – one of the worst in Europe.
In Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was forced to leave a summit of EU leaders to self-isolate on Thursday after a member of her team tested positive.
She said on Twitter: “I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. I myself tested negative.
“However, as a precaution, I immediately leave the European Council to isolate myself”.
Currently, Russia is the worst in Europe with the virus having recorded 1.3 million cases, followed by Spain and France with 908,000 and 850,000 cases respectively.
The UK, meanwhile, has the continent’s worst record with 43,000 people dying from the disease.
Next come Italy, with 36,000 deaths, and Spain with 33,000 people losing their lives due to the disease.