COVID-19: Italy orders Christmas lockdown as Sweden changes course with toughest measures yet | World news

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Italy must enter a new lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Years period to fight an increase in coronavirus cases.

Non-essential bars, restaurants and shops will close December 24-27, New Years Eve-January 3, and January 5-6.

Italians will only be allowed to travel for professional, health or emergency reasons.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said it was “a painful decision” but it comes amid a surge in COVID-19 infections.

“The situation is difficult across Europe. The virus continues to circulate everywhere, ”he told reporters.

“Our experts were seriously concerned that there would be an increase in cases at Christmas… So we had to act, but I can assure you it was not an easy decision. ”

He said limited visits would be allowed to see elderly relatives who live alone, adding that police would not be sent to people’s homes to make sure they are following the rules – but called on the population to follow the measures.

Mr. Conte said action was needed to “face the upcoming holidays so as to better protect us, and also for the general resumption of activities that will come in January”.

Italy was the first western country to be hit hard by the virus in February and on Friday 67,894 people had died from the disease, the highest number of deaths in Europe.

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Sweden introduces toughest restrictions to date amid spike in coronavirus cases

The increased measures in that country come as several countries in Europe that contained the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic are now seeing an increase in cases, prompting tough action as Christmas approaches.

Sweden, which has had a relatively spontaneous response to the pandemic and has tried not to let it disrupt normal life, is introducing its toughest restrictions yet.

Face masks are now mandatory on public transport, and numbers that can collect in restaurants, shops and gyms start from next week, as people have been told to work from home.

The Scandinavian country has not entered any lockdowns or closed businesses, instead relying on common sense to control infections.

However, he sees a rapid increase in confirmed cases which is straining the health system, with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven calling the situation “very serious”.

It on Friday recorded a record 9,654 new daily coronavirus cases and 100 deaths, bringing the total to 7,993.

A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a Christmas tree in front of the Swiss House of Parliament in Bern, Switzerland
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Increase in cases put hospitals under extreme pressure in Switzerland

Restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities have been ordered to close next week in Switzerland, which the Swiss government says is necessary because “hospitals and healthcare workers have been under extreme pressure ever since. weeks and the holiday season further increases the risk of rapidly increasing cases.

Meanwhile, the chief of emergencies at the World Health Organization said a team of international experts examining the origins of the coronavirus pandemic will visit the city of Wuhan in China – the suspected site of the initial outbreak – during the first week of January. .

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Dr Michael Ryan said there would be quarantine arrangements for the team, which would work “with our Chinese colleagues”, but not be “overseen by Chinese officials”.

He said the world should celebrate the arrival of vaccines, but “the next three to six months are going to be tough.”

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