European countries tighten the brakes on COVID-19, France is “critical”

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European countries tighten the brakes on COVID-19, France is


PARIS: France, Belgium and Poland tightened restrictions on Saturday March 27 as coronavirus cases increased in Europe as the Philippines braced for a giant lockdown and Chile confined more than 80% of its population.

France admitted the situation was “critical” and added three more departments to the 16 already under strict restrictions.

About 20 million people in France, including those in the Paris region, are classified as living in areas with high infection.

They are not allowed to travel more than 10 km from their home unless they have an essential reason.

Checks at stations, airports and toll roads began on Saturday to enforce travel restrictions.

“A dozen police teams have been deployed against two in normal times” in the lively district of Montparnasse station in Paris, a police officer told AFP, adding that these numbers would be increased during rush hours.

READ: Spain to demand negative COVID-19 test at French land border

Only food stores and book and music stores are open, and high school classrooms are only half functioning.

Daily cases in France have almost doubled since the start of the month and there have been more than 200,000 new cases every week.

Belgium has meanwhile closed all businesses involving non-medical physical contact such as hairdressers for four weeks from Saturday.

Stores offering “non-essential” services can only receive customers by appointment.

Poland has closed nurseries, playgrounds, furniture and DIY stores, as well as beauty and hair salons.

Social distancing in churches in the predominantly Catholic nation has also been stepped up with one person authorized on 20 m² instead of 15 m² previously.

READ: Germany designates France as ‘high risk’ COVID-19 zone: Health Agency

“THE VIRUS IS THE ENEMY”

The Philippines announced on Saturday that more than 24 million people in and around Manila would be locked out next week.

“The virus is the enemy, not the government,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

“As long as we’re at home, we expect infection rates to slow down. ”

Starting Monday, people will have to work from home unless they are considered essential workers, and public transportation will be cut off.

All mass gatherings will be banned, nighttime curfews from 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. will be enforced, and non-essential businesses will be closed.

Chile has also started a new and strict lockdown for more than 80% of its population, with shopping even for basic items banned on weekends.

READ: COVID-19 rages across Eastern Europe, leaving hospitals struggling to cope

READ: European third wave of COVID-19 could hit Britain, warns Prime Minister Johnson

VACCINATION DISPARITY

The pandemic has killed more than 2.7 million people since December 2019, according to an AFP count on Saturday.

The United States is the most affected country with 548,089 deaths, followed by Brazil with 307,112 deaths, Mexico with 200,862, India with 161,240 and Great Britain with 126,515 deaths.

Health officials have deployed more than 510 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine globally, but with large variations between countries.

The World Health Organization on Friday called on the richest countries to donate vaccines to help the poorest start vaccinations.

Vaccine deployment has been blatantly uneven, with the United States accounting for more than a quarter of the global total and the poorest countries lagging far behind the richest.

While wealthy EU countries still struggle to detonate their vaccines, France has made it clear that it sees vaccine policies fueling not only European competition, but global competition for influence.

“We are considering a new type of world war”, declared President Emmanuel Macron after a European summit.

“We are particularly interested in Russian and Chinese attacks and attempts to influence the vaccine.”

Vaccine deployment has been very uneven globally AFP / Mohammed ABED

“THE GREATEST GENOCIDE”

However, Moscow – whose Sputnik V gun is now being deployed in many countries around the world – quickly hit back, with Kremlin officials saying “absolutely disagree” with Macron’s comments.

But Berlin has said it would be happy to use Sputnik V if it gets approval from EU regulators.

Germany has also classified the whole of France as a high-risk area, which means travelers must show a negative Covid test and quarantine on arrival.

Kenya on Friday became the latest African country to order a partial lockdown, closing schools and bars in and around the capital Nairobi.

“I am convinced that the cost of not acting now would be much higher,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In India, too, a sharp rise in infections will prompt new measures with the worst-affected state of Maharashtra, including its mega-city Mumbai, under a nighttime curfew from Sunday.

In Brazil, political heat intensified on President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday when his predecessor accused him of presiding over the “greatest genocide” in the country’s history.

“We must save Brazil from COVID-19,” said former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, adding: “Brazil will not resist if this man continues to rule in this way. ”

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