A host of European countries imposed new local restrictions yesterday to reduce spiralling new cases of coronavirus.
The coronavirus causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
City authorities in Madrid announced a partial lockdown on nearly a million people, while in France, where new daily cases hit a fresh record of 13,000 yesterday, the government is struggling to create enough testing capacity as new hotspots emerge daily.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said yesterday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, but had no symptoms and would continue to carry out his duties while quarantined at home.
“I tested positive for Covid-19 this evening,” Le Maire said in a statement on Twitter, adding that he would remain at home for seven days. “I immediately followed the health measures brought in by the government by self-isolating at home.”
He gave no further details.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex last week tested negative for Covid-19, after he came into contact with someone who tested positive at the Tour de France cycle race.
The city of Nice on the Riviera banned groups of more than 10 people meeting on its beach, in parks or public gardens.
The Moscow health department said yesterday that it had recorded 1,347 deaths related to the novel coronavirus in the city in August, with the overall death toll 14.2% higher than during the same month the previous year.
Moscow, the city worst hit by the pandemic in Russia, said it had recorded 10,969 deaths in August, or 1,367 cases more than in August 2019 and 1,345 more than the average of the previous three years.
The department identified 431 cases in which the coronavirus had been the main cause of death, down from 742 in July and 1,605 in June.
It said 916 others had died of other causes, while testing positive for the virus.
The authorities said last month the deaths of 1,706 people were linked to the coronavirus in July.
With 1,091,186 cases, Russia has the world’s fourth highest number of infections.
The authorities have said that 19,195 people have died from the virus.
Worldwide, the respiratory disease has killed nearly 947,000 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP, while more than 30.2 million cases have been registered.
“We’re adding about 1.8mn to 2mn cases per week to the global case count, and an average somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 deaths,” World Health Organisation (WHO) emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference.
“Thankfully that is not rising exponentially. This is a hugely high figure to be settling at. That is not where we want to be.”
In Madrid, one of the worst affected areas in Europe during the first wave of Covid-19 in March and April, medics warned that hospitals were getting close to capacity again.
“Intensive care units are overwhelmed with Covid patients,” Santiago Usoz, an accident and emergency medic at the October 12 hospital, told AFP.
A partial lockdown was announced for residents of several areas in densely populated, low-income neighbourhoods in the south of the capital which will come into force on Monday.
People can only leave their zone to go to work, seek medical care or take their children to school, while nightspots and restaurants will have to reduce capacity by 50%, the regional government of Madrid said.
Meanwhile, most of a group of more than a thousand Orthodox Jewish pilgrims who had camped along the border between Ukraine and Belarus left yesterday after being refused entry due to coronavirus rules.
Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews head to the central Ukrainian city of Uman every Jewish New Year to visit the tomb of Rabbi Nahman, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.
Meanwhile, to counter a surge in coronavirus cases, nightspots will be closed for four days in Iceland’s capital, officials said yesterday, as Nordic neighbour Denmark also announced new restrictions.
Reykjavik, the capital of the sub-Arctic island, has recorded an upswing in cases since Monday.
Of the 59 new cases recorded, 58 were in the Reykjavik region.
“It is important to react as quickly as possible with targeted measures to prevent a generalised epidemic with its consequences,” chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason said yesterday in a memo to the health minister.
At least a quarter of the latest contaminations have been linked to nightspots in the city centre – the rest have been recorded at two universities in the capital.
At the end of July, a surge was also recorded but curbed by restrictions, which were then eased in early September.
With 365,000 habitants, Iceland reported a total of 2,230 cases of Covid-19 and 10 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.
The previous day 21 new cases were recorded, the largest 24-hour increase in more than five months.
Nordic neighbour Denmark is also seeing a surge and announced new restrictions.
Nightspots and restaurants across the country will need to close at 10pm – a measure until now reserved for Copenhagen and its suburbs.
Gatherings of more than 50 people will be banned as of today, compared to the current limit of 100 people, with measures remaining in place until at least October 4.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stressed that while the number of cases was going up the situation was still better than in March.
“What we’re doing now is about avoiding ending up there, so that we avoid a closing down of large parts of society,” Frederiksen said.
Denmark has reported 22,291 cases of Covid-19 and 635 deaths.
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