Europe adopts tougher virus restrictions as infections surge

As the United States approached 200,000 coronavirus deaths on Monday, the crisis deteriorated across Europe, with Britain working to establish new restrictions, Spain again cracking down on Madrid and the Czech Republic replacing its minister of health with an epidemiologist due to an increase in infections.

The push to reimpose tough measures on Europe to deal with a scourge that had apparently been brought under control in the spring contributed to a slide on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 510 points, or 1.8%, and the S&P 500 fell 1.2%.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a round of restrictions on Tuesday to curb the spread of the disease. British Medical Director Chris Whitty warned that cases are doubling every seven days and could lead to an increase in deaths in the coming weeks.

Medical directors for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland raised the country’s COVID-19 alert on Monday from three to four, the second highest level. More than 4,300 new infections were reported on Monday, a level not seen since early May.

“We have, in a very bad way, literally turned a corner,” after weeks of increasing infections, Whitty said.

In France, where infections reached a record over the weekend with more than 13,000 new cases in 24 hours, health authorities opened new testing centers in the Paris region to reduce queues and delays. Italy added Paris and other parts of France to its COVID-19 blacklist, requiring travelers from those regions to show proof of a negative test or be tested upon arrival.

And the Norwegian capital of Oslo has banned gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes after a surge in cases and strongly urged people to wear masks when riding public transport amid a bus drivers’ strike that forced many travelers to take the tram.

“The situation in Oslo is serious. This development must stop and we have to stop now, ”said Mayor Raymond Johansen.

Police in the Spanish capital of Madrid and its surrounding towns began detaining people entering and leaving working-class neighborhoods that had been partially closed to combat the faster spread of the coronavirus in Europe.

Authorities said that as of Wednesday, approximately 860,000 residents must be able to demonstrate that their trips outside their neighborhoods are justified for work, study or medical reasons or face fines. The parks are closed and the shops and restaurants in the affected areas are limited to 50% occupancy.

The target locations have some of the highest transmission rates in Europe. The move has been met with protests from people who think the restrictions stigmatize the poor.

The German city of Munich, with one of the highest infection rates in the country, will allow only up to five people or members of two households to gather together, and will restrict private indoor gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings or funerals to no more 25 people. .

The Czech Republic also faces the possibility of further restrictions after the government appointed epidemiologist Roman Prymula as Minister of Health.

In the spring, the country recorded a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared to the worst-hit Western European countries, such as Italy, Spain and Britain.

But after the government lifted most of its restrictions over the summer, confirmed cases began to reappear, reaching a record last week. On Thursday, the daily increase in new cases was over 3,000, almost the same number as in the entire month of March.

Prymula said over the weekend that the easing of restrictions came too quickly.

Elsewhere, the United States came close to reaching 200,000 deaths, with health authorities deeply concerned about the resumption of school and university and the onset of cold weather, which will force more people to stay indoors. A widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts that the death toll in the United States will double to 400,000 by the end of the year.

India recorded nearly 87,000 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours. The nation of 1.3 billion people now has more than 5.4 million reported cases, and is expected to overtake the United States in a few weeks, which has 6.8 million reported cases. However, the Taj Mahal has reopened to tourists for the time being in six months, although visitors will have to wear masks and undergo temperature checks.

Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, began its first day under a tighter lockdown due to an increase in cases. Only essential businesses can remain open.

But there were flashes of good news: All virus restrictions are being lifted in much of New Zealand, with the exception of Auckland, the largest city. Health authorities reported no new infections on Monday and the number of active cases was estimated at 62. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials have “reasonable confidence that we are on the right track.”

And in Africa, the increase in cases has leveled off after the continent’s 54 countries joined an alliance that was praised for responding better than some richer countries, including the U.S. More than 33,000 deaths have been confirmed in the continent of 1.3 billion people.