A swathe of new restrictions to curtail a second wave of coronavirus infections were announced or came into force from Austria to Greece, Italy to Portugal yesterday as the global death toll climbed above 1.3mn.
The coronavirus causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
More than 53mn have been infected worldwide by Covid-19, which is running rampant throughout America and Europe, forcing governments to take more drastic action despite the potential economic devastation.
Austria joined a growing trend announcing schools and non-essential shops would close from Tuesday, just two weeks after a partial lockdown was imposed.
“There are still many who say that infections don’t happen at school, in shops or services,” Chancellor Sebastien Kurtz told a news conference. “But the truth is the authorities can no longer trace 77% of new infections, which means they no longer know where contamination is happening.”
Greece, battling a saturated national health system, announced it would shut all schools after imposing a nationwide night curfew from Friday.
“Closing elementary schools was the last thing we wanted to do. This is a measure of how serious the situation is,” Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said.
Secondary schools had already been shuttered.
In Italy, the regions of Tuscany and Campania – of which Florence and Naples are the respective capitals – plunged into “red zones” of tough restrictions, which now cover 26mn of the 60mn population.
“There is no other way if we want to reduce the numbers of dead,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, as the country’s death toll rose by 544 to 44,683, one of Europe’s worst.
New anti-virus curbs also came into force in Ukraine yesterday, with all non-essential businesses ordered closed for the weekend.
Poland became the latest country to report record figures with 548 coronavirus deaths over 24 hours, just days after the government decided against introducing a nationwide quarantine.
In Turkey, Istanbul’s mayor called for a lockdown of at least two weeks to contain an “out of control” rise in coronavirus cases, and said virus-related deaths in the city alone outstrip reported nationwide figures.
Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a leading politician in Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the country’s largest city must act fast and provide a clear picture of how the pandemic’s second wave is emerging.
Earlier yesterday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkish hospitals were not overwhelmed for now but things could worsen if people did not follow rules such as wearing masks and social distancing.
The Czech Republic reported 7,357 new cases for November 13 as daily infections continued to hold below recent peaks after weeks of tightened measures to combat the spread, health ministry data showed yesterday.
The ministry reported 171 new deaths yesterday, including 104 on Friday and revisions to previous days, to bring the total to 5,926 – a 25% increase in the last week and a ten-fold rise since September 25.
In total, 454,030 people have been infected since the pandemic started, including a three-fold increase just in the past month.
And Russia reported yesterday a record daily increase of 22,702 new coronavirus infections, taking the national tally to 1,903,253.
Authorities also reported 391 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 32,834.
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