Netherlands extend anti-Covid measures until April 20
The Netherlands will extend until April 20 the restrictive measures in place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, which is worsening in the kingdom, while reducing the duration of the curfew by one hour, a announced Tuesday evening Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“The number of contaminations is climbing again and there are again more people in the hospital”, explained Mr. Rutte at a press conference. “This is currently the disturbing reality, and this is why we cannot abandon the measures in place” which should have been lifted on March 30.
There is, however, “a small change. It makes sense to change the curfew, since summer time is coming and it will be daylight longer,” said the head of the Dutch government. The curfew is delayed by one hour. It passes at 10 p.m. and is in effect until 4.30 a.m.
“For the rest, nothing changes,” said Mr. Rutte, who won the legislative elections with flying colors last week.
Cafes, bars and restaurants will therefore remain closed, except for take-out orders. The same goes for “non-essential” businesses which will keep their curtains drawn unless a prior appointment has been made.
The implementation of the curfew in January had sparked riots in several cities in the Netherlands, but the government maintains it is necessary in the face of the pandemic.
Since the onset of the health crisis last year, the Netherlands, with a population of just over 17 million, has recorded more than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus and 16,339 deaths linked to the disease.
Tuesday, 5,636 new cases were identified.
Indicators are deteriorating in France, Macron promises to vaccinate more
More patients in hospital and in intensive care, more contamination: while the signs of runaway from the Covid-19 epidemic multiply, Emmanuel Macron still promises to accelerate the vaccination, by expanding it as of this week -end to over 70s and teachers in April.
Greece beats its daily contamination record
Greece broke its daily record for coronavirus infection cases on Tuesday, with 3,586 new infections reported in the past 24 hours, half of which in the Athens region. The uncontrolled increase is putting the Greek healthcare system under increasing pressure. The number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation has also reached a record high since the start of the pandemic in the country, with 699 cases.
The Greek government has assigned 200 independent doctors and pulmonologists to fight the coronavirus to relieve overworked staff in public hospitals this week.
Private clinics have also been ordered to reserve places for patients suffering from diseases other than Covid-19.
About 10% of the country’s 11 million people have already received two doses of an anti-Covid vaccine. They are 500,000 to have received the first injection.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths has increased by 51, in the past 24 hours, to a total of 7,582 people in Greece.
The government attributes the increase in the number of cases of infection to non-compliance with existing measures, such as distancing and limiting social contact.
Norway suspends sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants
Norway will temporarily ban the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, and force travelers from abroad to complete their entire quarantine at hotels to stem a rebound in Covid cases, the government announced on Tuesday. “The most important thing is that at Easter we travel as little as possible and meet as few people as possible to prevent the virus from spreading,” said Health Minister Bent Høie, at a press conference.
Although having an incidence rate among the lowest in Europe, the Nordic country has observed for several weeks a resurgence of the epidemic under the effect of the variant which appeared in Great Britain, which is more contagious.
This forces the Norwegian authorities to tighten the screws before the Easter holidays, a period favorable to travel, many Norwegians then going to their mountain huts.
While these chalet stays are not prohibited unlike last year’s Easter Truce, the government has adopted a set of new recommendations and obligations.
Among the first, he now recommends limiting the number of guests that can be accommodated at home to two and increasing the distance to be maintained between individuals from one to two meters.
Among the seconds, it temporarily prohibits the serving of alcohol in bars and restaurants, and it imposes the closure of gyms and public swimming pools.
People returning from a non-essential trip abroad will also now have to complete their ten-day quarantine in special hotels from which they could until then leave after three days in the event of a negative test.
These measures will come into force overnight from Wednesday to Thursday and will last until April 12.
Germany under a bell at Easter
Germany, faced with an “exponential” rise in contamination and a new “much more lethal” variant of Covid will be placed in reinforced lockdown throughout the Easter weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced early Tuesday. The day should also see Russian President Vladimir Putin finally vaccinated and the United Kingdom pay tribute to the victims of the disease.
After nearly twelve hours of negotiations between the Chancellor and the representatives of the States-regions, the verdict has finally fallen in Berlin: most shops will be closed and religious services canceled on Easter weekend, from April 1 to 5, and gatherings, such as outdoor dining, will be banned.
“The situation is serious. The number of cases is increasing exponentially and the intensive care beds are filling again,” Merkel said.
Worse, Germany has entered a “new pandemic” due to the spread of the new variants. “We have a new virus (…) it is much more lethal, much more infectious and contagious for a lot longer,” she warned.
Hardening of AstraZeneca exports?
The European Union also remains divided on a tightening of the conditions of export of the vaccines manufactured on its territory, a measure which should target AstraZeneca and which feeds the tensions with London, much ahead of its vaccination campaign.
The Twenty-Seven, in conflict with the Swedish-British group for deliveries well below forecasts, meet at the top Thursday and Friday. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin has expressed strong opposition to a possible blockage, saying “it would be a very retrograde measure”. London, for its part, said it was confident that this threat would not be carried out.
Tribute and reflection in Great Britain
The most bereaved country in Europe, the United Kingdom will pay tribute on Tuesday to the victims of the pandemic, one year to the day after the establishment of the first containment in the country, by observing a minute of silence at noon in Parliament. On the evening of March 23, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson resolved to announce, in the wake of other European countries, the immediate containment of the United Kingdom.
A year later, the country is in its third confinement and has more than 126,000 dead, the heaviest toll in Europe, and more than 4.3 million infections. Boris Johnson called on the British to take advantage of this anniversary to “reflect on the past year, one of the most difficult in the history of our country”.
Hostages for several years?
Elsewhere in the world, efforts are continuing, with varying degrees of success, to try to stem the pandemic, which has killed more than 2.716 million people to date, according to a report established on Monday by AFP from official sources.
Disaster in Italy
In Italy, the vaccination campaign is turning into a “disaster” due to a faulty reservation system in Lombardy (north), the Italian region most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, local politicians admitted on Monday. Lombardy was the epicenter of the outbreak 13 months ago and remains the region with the highest number of cases to this day.
Cuba starts vaccination
Cuba for its part began on Monday the vaccination of 150,000 health workers with its vaccine candidate Soberana 2, and 48,000 volunteers with another, Abdala. Both are in phase 3, the last step before approval.
Confusion in Brazil
In Brazil, governors, mayors and President Jair Bolsonaro are scrambling over what to do in the face of the pandemic. “I am currently facing the worst challenge of my life,” said Joao Doria, governor of the state of Sao Paulo, where the intensive care occupancy rate exceeds 91%. “We are going through one of those tragic times in history when millions of people are paying the price for having a psychopathic and unprepared leader to lead the nation,” he said. The confusion is further compounded by the coexistence of two health ministers in Brazil: an outgoing and his successor who has still not been able to take office a week after his appointment.
Inequality of access to vaccines
But globally, the inequality of access to anti-Covid vaccines between rich and poor countries “is widening” and becoming “grotesque”, accused WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday, who said he feared that the virus won’t take the world hostage for several more years. “In January, I declared that the world was on the brink of catastrophic moral failure (…). We have the means to avoid this failure, but it is shocking how little has been made to avoid it, ”he lamented.