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Europe divides due to blockade; cases surge

Brussels (Associated Press)-The European Director of the World Health Organization expressed deep concern about the region on Thursday. The region once again recorded the highest weekly case rate in history. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “winter is difficult” because French residents are struggling to live in the area. The new one-month blockade and the Spanish Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency.

Dr. Hans Kruger, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a meeting with the European Minister of Health: “Since the spring, the hospitalization rate has risen to an unprecedented level” and the death toll has risen sharply by more than 30%. He pointed out that Europe has now reported more than 1

0 million coronavirus cases and is “at the center of this pandemic again.”

Kruger said: “At the risk of ringing the alarm, I must express our true concerns.”

After a virtual EU summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Lehn said that the virus surge is “very serious. The number of cases is rising. The number of hospitalizations is rising. The number of deaths is rising, not so fast. … But if we do not act urgently, the spread of this disease will overwhelm our healthcare system.”

She said that Brussels will provide 220 million euros (257 million US dollars) to help EU countries organize the cross-border transfer of infected patients. During the meeting, leaders wrestled over how to best coordinate their virus testing, tracking, and vaccine plans, even if their countries were divided on implementing a full or partial lockdown.

In a speech to the German parliament earlier on Thursday, Merkel said that Germany “faces a severe situation at the beginning of the cold season.”

The German disease control agency said that in the past day, local authorities reported 16,774 new positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the country’s total test volume to nearly 500,000 marks. The death toll is 10,272.

“Winter will be a difficult four long and difficult months. But this will end.” Merkel told the lawmakers.

Under the new restrictions that took effect on Monday, German restaurants, bars, stadiums and cultural venues will be closed for four weeks. The party is limited to a maximum of 10 people in two families, and all unnecessary travel is discouraged. Schools, kindergartens, shops and places of worship will remain open-despite safety precautions.

Merkel said the authorities have no choice but to drastically reduce social interactions, because now three-quarters of the source of infection in Germany is no longer traceable.

She said: “If we wait until the intensive care unit (ICU) is full, it will be too late.”

Alexander Goland, the opposition leader of the far-right “German Alternative Party”, accused the Merkel government of carrying out “wartime propaganda” and compared the epidemic to traffic, saying that society accepts a certain number of car deaths every year, but Driving is not prohibited.

Berlin announced a new 10 billion euro ($11.7 billion) fund for companies affected by these additional measures.

Europe’s largest economy has been able to mobilize large-scale financial assistance to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Nonetheless, these measures have aroused anger, especially the restaurant owners, who have set up outdoor heated seating areas and made other preparations to comply with hygiene regulations, only to be told that they cannot serve customers within a month.

France announces a second total blockade On Wednesday, for the second time in a year, many countries hesitated to adopt such drastic measures to be alert to the economic pain they caused.

Some French doctors expressed a sigh of relief, while business owners felt hopeless because the country was preparing to shut down again for a month. The new lock-in measures were milder than what France saw in the spring, but still shocked restaurants and other non-essential businesses that were ordered to close.

Although the 14-day infection rate is much higher than that in Germany, and the number of deaths from the virus is four times higher than that of the United Kingdom, the British government still rejects calls for a national lockdown.

British Community Secretary Robert Jenrick said the virus was “very concentrated in certain areas” and it would be better to restrict restrictions to the areas where the outbreak was most severe.

In Spain, the authorities have been restricting free travel, nightlife and social gatherings, but they have avoided adopting strict self-stay at home, such as curbing the first wave of infections but hurting economic order.

But as officials predict that current infection levels will lead to a severe shortage of intensive care beds in November, some experts are already calling for a complete lockdown.

Spanish regions such as Catalonia and La Rioja have closed bars and restaurants, while most others have imposed curfews, limiting nightlife. But the additional subsidies did not accompany these restrictions, leading to loud protests from corporate protesters in Barcelona this week, smashing pots, brandishing cocktail shakers and chanting “We want to work!”

At the same time, the Spanish parliament voted by a majority vote to maintain Spain’s newly declared state of emergency until May in an attempt to contain the outbreak of the epidemic again, despite opposition from some opposition parties. If the situation improves, a vote may be held in March to cancel the measure.

Spanish officials have recorded more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases, although the authorities said the true number may be at least three times higher. The death toll from the virus is at least 35,000.

At the same time, Russia stated that it has no plans to implement a nationwide blockade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “Despite the severe epidemic situation, we are now better prepared to work in the epidemic.” Russia has recorded more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The number of virus cases is highest in Europe and fourth in the world.


The Jordanian reports from Berlin. Associated Press reporters in Europe contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic report on http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak And https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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