Europe wonders how to tackle Covid-19 rise

Pressure mounts on governments to take measures without resorting to full lockdown

Pressure across Europe on governments rose on Monday to tackle the rising number of coronavirus case without resorting to a spring-style strict lockdown that would hit the continent’s struggling economies, news wires reported. As local restrictions were imposed on many places, people stood on the verge of revolt.

Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez met on Monday with the president of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, to coordinate a stronger response to the outbreaks as the country struggles to contain a second wave of the virus. Police in the Spanish capital and its surrounding towns are stopping people coming in and out of working-class neighbourhoods that have been partially locked down to combat Europe’s fastest coronavirus spread.

The measure has been met with protests from people who think the restrictions are stigmatising the poor. Some 860,000 residents are affected by the new heightened restrictions, having to justify their trips out of their neighborhoods for work, study or medical reasons. Parks are closed and shops and restaurants have to limit their occupancy to 50% in the affected zones.

In the Czech Republic, Health Minister Adam Vojtech resigned amid a record rise of coronavirus infections, saying his move should create space for a new approach to the pandemic. The country coped well with the first wave of the infections in the spring but has been facing a record surge of the new confirmed cases. Last Thursday, the Czech Republic recorded more than 3,000 new cases, a figure not seen since March.

Britain’s top medical and scientific advisers delivered a sobering assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic to the public, amid expectations the government is preparing to announce new measures to control rising infection rates. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that infection rates are going in the “wrong direction” and the UK faces a challenging winter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met on Monday with members of her “coronavirus Cabinet” to discuss measures aimed at preventing a second wave. Health Minister Jens Spahn said he was concerned by the current momentum of the outbreak, particularly in neighbouring countries such as France, Austria and the Netherlands.

“All of these countries have several times (the number of cases per capita) than we do, significantly higher infection numbers and a momentum that in the case of Spain seems to have slipped away and is therefore out of control,” Spahn told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. The governor of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, warned that conditions could worsen as temperatures drop in the coming weeks and people spend more time indoors.

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