France has imposed a curfew while other European countries are closing schools, canceling surgeries and enlisting medical students, as authorities on the continent face the nightmare of a new wave of Covid-19 as winter approaches.
With a daily average of new cases of around 100,000, Europe has by far exceeded the United States, where more than 51,000 new Covid-19 infections are reported on average every day.
Faced with the skyrocketing of cases in France, President Emmanuel Macron announced the imposition of an evening curfew for four weeks starting next Saturday in Paris and in other major cities, affecting almost a third of the country’s population of 67 million people.
“We need to react,” Macron said in a television interview, saying that France had not yet lost control of the virus, but adding: “We are in a worrying situation.”
Most European governments eased their quarantines over the summer to restore their economies, which were hampered by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the return to normal activities – from crowded restaurants to semesters of university classes – has fueled an acute outbreak of new cases across the continent.
Bars and restaurants were the first to close or face reduced hours under the new lockdown measures, but escalating infection numbers are also testing government resolutions to keep schools and non-coronavirus health care functioning .
Even Pope Francis was subjected to the new coronavirus rules, staying away from the faithful who followed his weekly audience on Wednesday.
In Lisbon, fans were not surprised after Portuguese soccer team captain Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for the virus, saying it just shows that everyone is at risk of infection – and famous athletes are no exception.
The Czech Republic, which has the worst per capita rate of cases on the continent, has decreed that the choices should work only with distance learning and is now considering calling on thousands of medical students. Hospitals are also canceling elective medical procedures to free up more beds for treating Covid patients.
“Sometimes we are on the verge of tears,” said Lenka Krejcova, head nurse at Slany hospital, near Prague, as builders are in a hurry to transform the general care section into a department for the treatment of the virus.
Poland is stepping up training for nurses and is evaluating the establishment of military field hospitals. Moscow is expected to send more students to online education, and Northern Ireland is closing schools for the next two weeks and restaurants for the next four weeks.
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