Some updates from The Guardian today:
Merkel: 'Germany on the verge of losing control of virus'Kate Connolly
Angela Merkel has warned that Germany
is on the verge of losing control of its fight against the coronavirus, reportedly telling colleagues from her Christian Democratic party this morning “the situation is threatening” and “every day counts”, writes Kate Connolly
, the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent.
At the internal meeting of the CDU, details of which were leaked to the media by participants, the chancellor warned of “very, very difficult months ahead” and said that “every day counts” in terms of tackling the virus’s spread.
On Friday, she is due to hold a meeting with the leaders of the 16 states where it is expected they will agree on tougher nationwide restrictions than those currently in place.
Merkel used her weekly podcast at the weekend to renew her insistence that people were not powerless to control the virus, and to appeal to them to “reduce contacts” as this was the most convincing measure to tackle it.
She said even though “people expect politicians to come up with new words” her message had not changed, and so she would simply go ahead and repeat her podcast from the previous week. The old podcast was promptly blended in.
’s health minister has said that health restrictions expected to be announced this week to contain the spread of coronavirus are likely to be in place for a long time.
Alain Berset told a news conference in Lausanne: “What we’re preparing now will likely last a long time. We’re not making decisions on Wednesday for Friday, we’re making decisions for the next weeks and months.”
Berset’s comments came as Switzerland’s health authorities announced 17,440 new infections, 259 new hospital admissions, and 37 Covid-related deaths. The figures include Saturday and Sunday, as no announcements are made over the weekend.
So far the Alpine country has recorded 121,093 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus, and a death toll of 1,914.
A partial lockdown on Kuala Lumpur
and the surrounding state of Selangor has been extended for a further two weeks, according to Reuters
, as Malaysia
recorded its biggest increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
A two-week partial lockdown announced earlier this month will be extended until 9 November, the senior minister of security, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, told a news conference.
His announcement came as health ministry reported 1,240 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest daily rise on record. The total number of cases in the country has more than doubled in the past month.
The government has imposed curbs on movement, including the closure of schools and places of worship, though all other economic activities are allowed to operate normally.
Malaysia has reported a total of 27,805 infections, including 236 deaths.
Lockdown restrictions have been extended in Tehran
and across Iran
, where two-thirds of provinces are now on a coronavirus red alert.
Some hospitals had run out of beds to treat new patients, the head of the national coronavirus taskforce told state TV. “Our doctors and nurses are tired. I urge everyone to respect the protocols,” Alireza Zali was quoted as saying by Reuters
The health ministry in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country reported 337 new deaths and 5,960 new cases over the past 24 hours. A banner on state TV said that amounted to a death every four minutes.
The closure of schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran, which was due to end on Monday, will be extended until 20 November, state TV reported.
“Extreme measures and limitations” will be imposed for one week in at least 43 counties where the infection rates have been alarming, the TV report added, citing officials. Twenty-one one of Iran’s 31 provinces were on a coronavirus red alert.
Tehran has blamed US sanctions for hampering its efforts to tackle the outbreak.
Monday’s data took Iran’s total death toll to 32,953 and the number of identified cases to 574,856, the health ministry spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, said.
has hit a new record for daily coronavirus infections, with 10,343 new confirmed cases announced on Monday.
The national institute for public health and the environment also reported 26 more Covid-related deaths.
A total of 301,597 cases of coronavirus have been counted in the country so far, and 7,072 deaths.
The coronavirus pandemic is starting to inflict a greater toll on areas of Russia beyond Moscow
, the Kremlin has said.
“The situation is quite serious,” Dmitry Peskov, the Russian government spokesman, told reporters on a conference call on Monday. “The epidemic has stricken the regions, it has gone east of Moscow.”
Peskov was quoted as saying by the Reuters
news agency that “extremely energetic” efforts from both the federal and regional governments were now needed to cope with rising case numbers.
Authorities have said Russia has enough hospital beds and medication to tackle the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, but media reports suggest some regions are struggling to withstand the pressure on their health system.
In one indication of the crisis, Russia’s health watchdog said it was investigating after local media outlet 161.ru in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don reported that several Covid-19 patients had died in hospital when their oxygen supply ran out.
A city official denied the report.
Russia’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases surged to a record high of 17,347 on Monday, including 5,224 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 1,531,224.
Authorities said 219 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 26,269.
has temporarily withdrawn two flu vaccines after dozens of people in nearby South Korea
died after receiving the shots, the South China Morning Post
Forty-eight people had died in South Korea as of Saturday after receiving the vaccines; however, the South Korean health authorities said they would continue with the vaccination programme because they had found no direct link to the deaths.
Nonetheless, Singapore’s health ministry said late on Sunday that it would halt the use of SKYCellflu Quadrivalent, manufactured by South Korea’s SK Bioscience, and VaxigripTetra, made by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi. Two other vaccines would continue to be used.
Countries around the world have launched campaigns to encourage people to get flu jabs, over fears that a double pandemic of flu and Covid-19 could overrun health systems.
From ski resorts in the north to restaurants in the south, many Italians
have been making their objections heard to the government’s latest measures to combat escalating coronavirus infections.
The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said the restrictions, which include the 6pm closure of bars and restaurants and complete closure of gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, theatres and ski stations, were needed so that people could enjoy a “serene Christmas”.
But the holiday period will be far from serene for businesses already reeling from the impact of the country’s spring shutdown and that might never reopen. “A calm Christmas is impossible,” said Paolo Bianchini, a restaurant owner in the Lazio town of Viterbo and president of MIO, a hospitality sector association.
Bars and restaurants are the lifeblood of the economy for so many Italian cities and towns, particularly in the south. In Sicily, for example, the number of restaurants has grown by 50% over the last eight years, according to figures from Unioncamere-Infocamere, an agricultural union.
“It’s an injustice and a final blow that we didn’t deserve,” said Giada Penna, who owns Il Mirto e la Rosa restaurant in Palermo.
Bianchini estimates that 50% of restaurants, which were already operating at reduced capacity, will not open at all over the next month as the cost of doing so will far outweigh revenues.Read more here
will impose tougher measures to following a recent rise in the number of infections, including stricter rules on private gatherings, Reuters reports citing a press conference by prime minister Erna Solberg.
The government also said it would stop exceptions to quarantine rules that foreign workers coming to work in Norway enjoyed until now.
From Friday, all foreign workers arriving in the Nordic country from EU countries that are experiencing a high number cases must undergo a 10-day quarantine.
“We need to do more to control the spread of the infection,” Solberg told a news conference.
Indoor public gatherings will be limited to 50 people, reversing an earlier decision to allow up to 200 people, while the maximum number permitted to meet in a private setting will be cut from 20 to a household receiving no more than five guests.
While Norway has Europe’s lowest level of new infections, the government believes that a failure to impose targeted measures now could lead to a broader lockdown later, like those of several other countries.
Solberg in March invoked emergency powers to shut schools, restaurants, sporting events and a wide range of public and private institutions, before starting a gradual easing of restrictions in the months that followed.
government is facing a backlash over its plans to put one of Europe’s worst Covid hotspots under a six-month state of emergency, Reuters reports
Opposition parties said six months was too long, epidemiologists said this may be too little too late, and some citizens balked at nightly curfews.
“The curfew doesn’t make much sense. Does the virus only infect people between 2300 and 0600? No,” said Marta Aragoneses, a 36-year old schoolteacher, enjoying a cigarette outside a cafe in La Latina.
Nearby, Mariano Moreno de Guerra, a pharmacist on his way to work in La Latina, said what worried him was plans for a six-month state of emergency.
“I don’t like what they’ve done at all,” he said. “They are acquiring a taste for confining people and that could be dangerous. Extending it by six months is an absolute outrage. I see a lot of potential for abuse.”
Political wrangling between the central and regional governments and between the minority government and opposition has for months hampered the response to the pandemic in Spain.
This has in turn angered many Spaniards, with analysts saying that the uncertainty could eventually hurt willingness to comply with the measures.
The nationwide curfew is set to last until at least 9 November while the government said on Sunday it would seek parliament’s approval for the state of emergency to last six months and give each region the right to take its own measures to tackle the pandemic, including limiting people’s movements.
The curfew applies to all of Spain except the Canary Islands between 11 pm and 6 am - with regions having the authority to start the curfew an hour earlier or delay it to midnight.
People are not allowed to move around at those hours unless for specific reasons, including work or needing to go to the pharmacy
Both the main opposition party, the conservative People’s Party (PP), and the center-right Ciudadanos said on Monday they would back a state of emergency, but not for that long.
PP leader Pablo Casado said his party would agree to as much as eight weeks but no more, and with a set of conditions that would include modifying legislation to allow for limits on the movement of people to tackle the pandemic to be decided without needing to resort to a state of emergency.
“The measures in Spain are reactive, dragging our feet, with the feeling that there’s no evaluation of whether they work and that something is done only because others took those steps,” said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Madrid’s Carlos III university.
Italians warned against travelling abroadItalians
have been advised against trips to other European countries because of surging coronavirus cases, with the foreign ministry warning they could get trapped overseas if travel bans became necessary.
A statement on the ministry’s website said:
In view of the worsening epidemiological situation in Europe, the foreign ministry recommends that all compatriots avoid travelling abroad except for strictly necessary reasons. It should also be noted that given the high number of infections in many European countries, further restrictions on travel in the future cannot be excluded, which would risk complicating any return to Italy.
The ministry further warned of the dangers of travelling beyond Europe.
Similar repatriation problems could occur, with much more serious consequences, in case of travel to non-EU destinations.
The Italian government helped repatriate almost 100,000 citizens earlier in the year after they were stranded abroad as borders were closed around the world amid coronavirus fears.
In a new record, almost half a million new coronavirus infections were recorded globally in a 24-hour period during the weekend, according to Reuters data.
Belgium records almost 12,500 cases a day for a week
An average of almost 12,500 new cases of coronavirus were reported every day in Belgium
last week, compared with about 5,000 every 24 hours a week earlier, according to figures released on Monday
About one person in every five who is tested turns out to be positive, with the very elderly hardest hit, according to the Associated Press
On average over the past week, 42 people died from the virus each day, bringing the death toll to 10,810, in a country with a population of around 11.5 million people.
Pressure is building on Belgium’s hospitals, where 467 people are being admitted on average each day, a rise of 85%. Almost 5,000 people are in hospitals, more than 750 of them in intensive care, according to the latest data.
“What we do now, what we will do in the next two weeks, will be decisive,” said Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s Covid-19 crisis centre. If the figures don’t change, he said, “we are likely to reach 2,000 patients in intensive care in two weeks. That is, our maximum capacity.”
New lockdown measures were introduced on Monday, but the tightening of restrictions until 19 November, mainly in the cultural and sports sectors, were considered inadequate by two of Belgium’s three regions.
Wallonia and the Brussels capital region extended a night-time curfew from 10pm to 6am. In Brussels, masks must be worn outdoors at all times, while cinemas, theatres and sports centres were ordered to close. People must work from home when possible.
Next week’s school holiday has been extended, with high school students in Wallonia and Brussels working from home as of this Wednesday. Students in Flanders will have two extra days off after what normally would have been the end of the vacation period.
Belgium’s intensive care units at risk of being overrunBelgium
’s intensive care units will be overrun in a fortnight if the rate of infection continues, a spokesman for country’s Covid-19 crisis centre has said, writes Daniel Boffey
, the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief.
Dr Yves Van Laethem said the 2,000 intensive care beds would be full with patients without a change of course.
An average of 12,491 new coronavirus infections were recorded each day between 16 and 22 October, up 44% over the previous week.
Daily hospital admissions over the same period were up 85% week-on-week to 467.7 on average a day. There are 4,827 people being treated in hospital for Covid-19, including 757 people, in intensive care.
On Monday morning, new regulations came into force in Brussels, where the rate of infections has been particularly high. Sports centres and gyms have been forced to close. Shops have been told to shut by 8pm every day and the half-term school break next week will be extended by three days.