France extends curfew as COVID second wave surges in Europe
France extended curfews to around two thirds of its population on Thursday and Belgium’s foreign minister was taken into intensive care with COVID-19, as the second wave of the pandemic surged across Europe, Trend reports citing Reuters.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities would be extended to 38 more departments, confining 46 million out of the country’s 67 million population to their homes from 9 pm to 6 am.
“A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Castex said at a news conference.
Shortly after the measures were announced, French health authorities reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases, bringing the cumulative total to 999,043.
According to a Reuters tally, Wednesday saw the highest total of infections reported in a single day aross the world, at 422,835.
In Spain, which this week became the first European country to pass 1 million cases, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the epidemic was now “out of control” in many areas. Regional authorities debated a curfew but stopped short of taking a decision.
After Europe appeared to have gained a measure of control over the epidemic following the dramatic lockdowns of March and April, a surge in cases over recent weeks has put the continent back at the heart of the crisis.
While hospitalisations and deaths have not so far overwhelmed health systems as they did during the initial wave early this year, authorities in many countries worry the situation is rapidly reaching a tipping point.
Germany, which reported more than 10,000 daily cases for the first time, extended travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, most of Austria and Italian regions including Rome.
“We still have a chance to slow a further spread of the virus,” Lothar Wieler, of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s infectious diseases agency, said in Berlin.
More than 5.3 million people across Europe have contracted the disease and over 204,000 have died, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. That compares with 8.3 million cases in the United States and 7.7 million in India.
Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes went into intensive care on Thursday, just a day after German Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive.
The resurgence over recent weeks stands in contrast to several countries in Asia, from China to South Korea or New Zealand, where draconian lockdowns and rigorous contact tracing have helped contain the disease.
According to a Reuters tally, Oct 21 saw the highest total of COVID-19 cases reported in a single day at 422,835.
Source: TREND News Agency