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A virus at a “turning point” in Europe, hitting risk groups

MILAN (AP) – Doctors warn that Europe is at a turning point as the coronavirus returns across the continent, including among vulnerable people, and governments try to impose restrictions without blocking entire economies.

With newly confirmed records reaching records, the Czech Republic has closed schools and built a field hospital, Poland has limited restaurant opening hours and closed gyms and schools, and France is planning a curfew at 9pm in Paris and other major cities. In Britain, authorities are closing pubs and bars in areas north of the country, while placing restrictions on communication in London and other parts of the country.

“This is a serious situation that should not be underestimated. This is serious at European level, “Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday.

Europe is not alone in seeing a renaissance. In the United States, new cases per day are rising in 44 states and deaths per day are rising in 30.

“If we do not deal with this, we risk a situation that is more difficult to control,”

; Bertrand Levratt, head of the largest hospital complex in Switzerland, told the Associated Press. “We are really at a turning point – things can go both ways.”

But while officials warn of growing cases, they are also wary of imposing tighter blockades across the country that devastated their economies this spring. Instead, they try more targeted restrictions.

France has 12,000 additional police officers to impose the new curfew; On Saturday night, for the first time, restaurants will be forced to close at 9 p.m. Restaurants, cinemas and theaters are trying to figure out how they can survive forced closures.

Culture Minister Roselyn Bacello told Le Parisien that he was negotiating exceptions to a one-month curfew in the Paris area and eight other metropolises.

A chain of movie theaters will open at 8 a.m. in hopes of making up for the evening’s losses. As Parisian restaurants usually open at 19 or 19:30, for dinner, some may close completely, as it no longer makes financial sense to stay open for such a short shift.

“The French cultural world is not invincible, it needs help,” author and director Ioan Sfar, who is about to release a new film, told RTL radio on Friday.

Italy, the first non-Asian country to detect local transmission of the virus, banned pickup sports and public gatherings after health officials said the revival had reached an “acute phase” after a period of relative grace following its particularly severe blockade. Speranza, the health minister, told reporters that all new measures in Italy, including curfew, must be “well thought out”.

Massimo Galli, director of infectious diseases at Milan’s Luigi Saco Hospital, said the jump in Italy – which reached pandemic peaks of new daily infections this week – was not the result of record testing, as politicians suggest, but a sign of a real return. among the population most at risk of developing a serious illness if infected.

This is a worrying trend, as the influx of serious cases has the potential to confuse hospitals, and this can be seen in other countries on the continent, as many see even higher numbers than Italy.

France, Spain and the United Kingdom have registered more than 300 infections per 100,000 population in the last two weeks, compared to accelerating but relatively low Italy 106.

The Czech Republic has reported more than 700 infections per 100,000 people, and the country’s military will begin building a field hospital at Prague’s exhibition center this weekend, a reminder of the dark spring days when many countries set up makeshift facilities to ease pressure on congested medical centers. . The government is also negotiating with neighboring Germany and some other countries to treat Czechs there if the health care system cannot cope with them.

In Italy, Milan is the epicenter of the renaissance and it also sees its busy hospitals. Sacco’s COVID-19 compartment was the first in the city to start filling up.

“We have a situation that is very disturbing, reminiscent of what we have already experienced,” Gally told the Associated Press, referring to the summit in March and April, when Italy reached a record of 969 deaths in one day. On Thursday, the country registered 83 deaths – twice the previous days, but much earlier.

As early as Milan, Gali said the number of elderly patients or those with other risk factors was rising, indicating that the virus had moved beyond its initial spread in late September, when most cases were mild or asymptomatic, caught by screening and contact tracking.

Since then, mixing between families, within companies and among students outside of school has fueled the spread to more vulnerable people, he said, renewing pressure on hospitals in Milan.

“The trend is already there and it is downright alarming,” he said, although he noted that not all of Italy was experiencing a wave yet.

But that, he said, could only be a matter of time. Galli said Italy would “follow in the footsteps” of its European neighbors unless the transmission chain is blocked for the next two weeks.

Gally fears that the new national restrictions adopted in the last two weeks – including mandatory outdoor masks, a ban on sports games with friends and the closure of restaurants at midnight – are not enough. He called for more restrictions on public transport and leisure if the authorities want to avoid a new blockade – bad for both the economy and the social fabric.

While the blockade of Italy in the spring gave him more time, Gali said the current revival shows “how quickly there is a risk of losing results even from very decisive and very important intervention.”


Charlton reports from Paris.


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