Public Life Restrictions Spreading as Governments Try to Halt Virus
On the advice of public health professionals, and after seeing the effects of locking down much of public life in places like China, governments across the world are putting in place more and more restrictions as they try to stop the coronavirus from spreading.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that while social distancing was welcome and necessary, all countries must put more resources into making testing available.
"We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected COVID-19 case," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the WHO, said in a press briefing Monday.
"If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too," he went on.
In the United States, many schools are closed starting Monday, while the country's two most populous cities — Los Angeles and New York — announced social spaces such as movie theaters would be?closed,?and restaurants would offer only delivery?or takeout service.?
But the United States, as well as many other Western countries, have been criticized for a lack of access to testing — even for those who are seeking it.
The Netherlands ordered similar closures, while the Czech Republic and Austria put in place their own calls for people to stay home. New Zealand on Monday became the latest country to ban large gatherings with a restriction on events with 500 or more people.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry said bars and nightclubs would be closed.
Meanwhile, the Vatican announced Pope Francis will hold Easter week services without public attendance.
The point of such bans is to keep people from being in such close quarters they can easily contract the virus and pass it along to others. In addition to hand-washing and self-isolating if you feel sick, such social distancing is a top recommendation being repeated by world health officials.
China, which put many cities under lockdown after the virus spread rapidly there in January, reported Monday 16 new cases. South Korea, which for weeks had the second most cases in the world, reported 74 cases Monday, a drastic reduction from its height.
Italy is under a nationwide lockdown, but has become a top concern as it struggles to keep ahead of the virus. Officials there reported 3,590 new cases and 368 more deaths Sunday.
Spain and Iran, two of the hardest-hit countries, each reported 1,000 new cases Monday.
The other way governments are trying to prevent more COVID-19 cases is to restrict entry.
Some of the latest to announce entry bans on foreigners are Colombia, Panama and Argentina.
To help cope with what has been a huge economic effect from the virus, central banks, including those from the United States, Japan and New Zealand, announced stepped-up efforts to slash interest rates and make it easier for businesses to get loans.
As of Monday morning, there were more than 169,000 coronavirus cases worldwide and 6,523 deaths. More than 77,000 people have recovered.
Source: Voice of America