European countries announced new coronavirus restrictions Friday, one day after the World Health Organization warned infections have started to spread again across the continent at “alarming rates.”
In Spain, which has more cases than any other European country with more than 620,000, the regional government of Madrid ordered a lockdown effective Monday in some of the more impoverished areas after a spike in infections there. While movement in the area will be restricted, people will still be allowed to go to work.
Authorities in Nice, France, have banned gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and cut bar operating hours, after new restrictions were imposed earlier this week in Bordeaux and Marseilles.
Britain said it is considering a new national lockdown after cases nearly doubled to 6,000 a day in the latest reporting week. British Health Minister Matt Hancock said another lockdown should be a last resort but that the government would do whatever is necessary to contain the virus.
New lockdown in Israel
Israel begins a second lockdown Friday because of a sharp jump in the number of coronavirus cases.
The three-week-long restrictions come just as the country is set to begin the Jewish holidays.
Israelis are allowed to travel no more than 500 meters from their houses. Exceptions include those purchasing medicine, seeking medical services, “helping someone in distress,” transferring a minor between parents, and obtaining “essential treatment for animals.”
And in Iran, a senior Iranian official said the country should be on “red alert” after it reported 3,049 new cases Friday, the highest daily gain since early June.
“The color classification doesnt make any sense anymore,” Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said in an interview with Reuters. “We no longer have orange and yellow. The entire country is red.”
Indias Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said Friday that 96,424 new infections and more than 1,000 COVID-related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
In North America, Canada has decided to extend the closure of the border its shares with the United States to non-essential travel until October 21, after seeing an increase in infections in recent weeks. Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday such decisions would continue to be based on public health advice to protect its citizens. The closing was first announced on March 18 and have been extended each month since.
US minorities affected
And in the U.S., the U.S. data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week revealed that members of minorities younger than 21 years old are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared with white Americans in the same age group.
Between February 21 and July 31, 121 people younger than 21 died of the disease, according to data compiled from 27 states. More than 75% of those young people were Hispanic, Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, even though they represent 41% of the U.S. population.
The CDC report also found that 75% of those who died had at least one underlying health condition such as asthma, obesity, neurologic and developmental conditions or cardiovascular conditions.
Researchers pointed out that certain social conditions, including crowded living environments, food and housing insecurity, and wealth and education gaps, could be contributing factors in the high fatality rates among minority children.
Vaccine trust tumbles
Nearly half of Americans, or 49%, said they definitely or probably would not get an inoculation if a coronavirus vaccine were available today, while 51% said they would, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted earlier this month.
The 49% who lean toward rejecting the inoculation cited concerns about side effects from the vaccine.
On Friday, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center reported there are more than 30 million COVID-19 infections worldwide and almost 950,000 deaths.
The United States has more cases than anywhere else in the world with 6.6 million, followed by India with 5.1 million cases and Brazil with 4.4 million.
Covid: Thousands protest in France against proposed new vaccine pass
A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life.
Demonstrators in the capital, Paris, held placards emblazoned with phrases like “no to vaccine passes”.
Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and some 10 police officers were injured after the protests turned violent in some places.
The bill, which passed its first reading in the lower house of France’s parliament on Thursday, would remove the option of showing a negative Covid-19 test to gain access to a host of public venues.
Instead, people would have to be fully vaccinated to visit a range of spaces, including bars and restaurants.
The government says it expects the new rules to come into force on 15 January, although the opposition-dominated Senate could delay the process.
But demonstrators on Saturday accused the government of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.
Others targeted their anger at the president, Emmanuel Macron, over comments he made earlier this week in relation to unvaccinated citizens, telling Le Parisian newspaper that he wanted to “piss them off”.
One protester, hospital administrator Virginie Houget, told the Reuters news agency that Mr Macron’s remarks were “the last straw”.
And in Paris, where some 18,000 people marched against the new law, demonstrators responded to his coarse language by chanting: “We’ll piss you off”.
TV images showed altercations between protesters and police turning violent in some places. In Montpellier officers used teargas during clashes with the demonstrators.
Turnout for the protests was estimated to be about four times higher than the last major demonstrations on 18 December, when some 25,500 people marched across the country.
But despite the vocal protests, opposition to the new measures is not widespread and recent polling suggests the vast majority of people back the vaccine pass.
France is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in Europe, with more than 90% of over-12s eligible for the shot fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, new coronavirus infections are rising rapidly across France as the new Omicron variant takes hold.
The country recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the second time in a week on Friday and admissions to intensive care wards are rising steadily, putting healthcare systems under strain.
Some hospitals have reported that some 85% of ICU patients are not vaccinated against Covid-19.
Covid-19: ‘There is no choice between lives and livelihoods,’ OECD chief Gurría says
Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26
As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of t..
Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26
As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of the year, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development backs measures seen by many as tough. Ángel Gurría tells FRANCE 24: "If you win the battle against the virus first, you will have less economic consequences." He adds that "there is no choice between lives and livelihoods; it's a false dilemma".
Mexican economist Ángel Gurría has been Secretary-General of the OECD since 2006 – throughout the global financial crash and subsequent recovery.
With hopes now high for viable vaccines against Covid-19, he's telling world leaders that the solutions to health and economic crises must carry the elements of our solutions to the environmental crisis too: "The single most important inter-generational responsibility is with the planet. That means the recovery, where we are going to make investments that have an impact for the next 30, 40 years, must absolutely have the sustainability of the planet in mind".
On the recently announced Pfizer vaccine, Gurría says: "It is a game changer […] The possibility of a vaccine being close is of enormous consequence. We still have to wait for it to be finalised, approved and distributed in sufficient amounts that it can get everywhere, so we are calculating that we are going to spend most of 2021 still living with the virus. But it changes expectations; the whole mood has improved considerably since the announcement."
On the refusal of Donald Trump, leader of the OECD's biggest single funder, to concede defeat in the US presidential election, Gurría sounds an upbeat note: "I believe that we will have an orderly transition of power in the United States come 20th January 2021. I believe in the institutions in the United States, I believe that the political forces in the United States will eventually align."
Finally, as talks drag on over a new Brexit deal on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, Gurría says he still expects a deal to be struck: "I believe that the common interest will lead to a deal […] The impact in Europe is going to be limited to the trade with the UK. The impact in the UK is going to be very serious, not only because of the flows of trade and flows of investment, but also because the overall business mood will be affected. So I am still counting on a deal."
Produced by Mathilde Bénézet
Attacks in France and Austria: Europe’s response to extremism
Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42
TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24
Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42
This Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people were killed. The last few weeks have seen more bloodshed, with attacks in the Paris region, in Nice and in the Austrian capital Vienna. European leaders are looking for solutions: ways to stop hate being preached, broadcast and acted upon, while defending individual freedoms of speech and of conscience. In our debate we ask two leading members of the European Parliament, from France and from Austria, what they believe should be done.
Produced by Yi Song and Perrine Desplats
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- Andreas SCHIEDER, Austrian MEP, Socialists & Democrats
- Nathalie LOISEAU, French MEP, Renew Europe