Israel and Melbourne slowly deconfin, Europe in the second wave


Israel and the Australian city of Melbourne, subject to draconian restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, began a gradual deconfinement on Sunday, as Europe, faced with a powerful second wave, takes the opposite path.

After a month of restrictions, nurseries, preschools, national parks and beaches have reopened in Israel, businesses that do not serve public have resumed work, and Israelis can now travel more than a mile from their homes. Gatherings are however limited to less than 10 people indoors and 20 outdoors. “We are coming out (of containment) this time with caution,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. This first phase is to be spread over several months, until February 2021. In the spring, Israel quickly lifted a first lockdown, wanting to revive the economy. But the country of nine million inhabitants recorded in September one of the highest rates in the world of contamination with the new coronavirus, since divided by four, according to data from AFP. In total, the authorities have identified more than 302,800 patients, including nearly 2,200 deaths.

100 days of confinement
In Australia, the five million inhabitants of Melbourne, the country’s second city confined for more than 100 days, have been able since Sunday to leave their homes for more than two hours a day and to travel up to 25 km away, to make sport, buy basic necessities and work in professions deemed essential. Daniel Andrews, Prime Minister of the state of Victoria where Melbourne is located, however rejected a lifting of all travel restrictions and a wider reopening of restaurants and other businesses, citing further easing on November 1 if the epidemic remained under control. “I don’t do what is popular, I do what is safe,” he said. Since the start of the pandemic, Australia (25 million inhabitants) has counted some 27,000 cases and 904 deaths, including 800 in the state of Victoria.

These few signs of local improvements do not reverse the global trend: the indicators are red. At least 1,111,152 deaths and more than 39.7 million infections have been identified since the start of the pandemic, according to a count made on Sunday by AFP. For Saturday alone, 5,302 deaths and 372,882 new cases were recorded.

The United States is the most bereaved country (at least 219,289 dead, or nearly one in five in the world), followed by Brazil (153,675 dead) and India (114,031 dead).

Outbreak in Europe
In Europe, the situation is “very worrying”, judges the World Health Organization: the continent has experienced a 44% increase in new infections this week, while Latin America, the Middle East and Asia are declining, according to an AFP count.

France, which on Saturday recorded more than 32,000 new cases, introduced a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for at least a month in a dozen large cities, including Paris and its suburbs. In total, 20 million people are affected, or almost a third of the country’s population, which has one of the worst results in Europe (more than 33,300 deaths and 834,770 cases). Saturday evening, the streets of the French capital, generally very lively, gradually froze in silence, recalling the total confinement of almost two months decreed during the first epidemic wave of spring.

The United Kingdom, the most bereaved country in Europe (43,579 dead, 15,000 new cases Friday) also tightened the screws on Saturday: in London and in several other areas, or 11 million people, the indoor meetings between relatives and friends different homes are prohibited. As for Lancashire (north-west) and Liverpool, they are on maximum health alert, which implies the ban on meetings between different households indoors and outdoors, and the closure of pubs that do not serve meals.

In Germany, which is also beating its daily records for new cases, Chancellor Angela Merkel solemnly asked her fellow citizens on Saturday to reduce their social relations as much as possible and to stay at home.

Slovakia has announced a screening campaign every more than 10 years, while Slovenia has renounced contact tracing of infected people, due to lack of sufficient staff.

Wash one’s hands!
In Poland, Warsaw and other big cities have closed middle and high schools, banned wedding ceremonies, restricted the number of people admitted to shops, transport and places of worship, and restaurants must close at 9:00 p.m.

In the Czech Republic, which has the highest rate of infections and deaths per 100,000 mainland residents, the government has asked the military to build a 500-bed field hospital outside of Prague.

Italy, already hard hit in the spring, reported 10,010 new cases on Friday, its all-time high. Since Saturday, bars and restaurants have to close at midnight in Lombardy (north), the most affected region. The Italian government decided on Sunday to mobilize an additional 39 billion euros to support its economy, the third largest in the euro area.

To fight the pandemic, frequent hand washing, recommended by the WHO from the start, is essential, confirms a Japanese study, according to which the coronavirus survives 9 hours on the skin, five times longer than the flu. Both the coronavirus and the influenza virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by the application of ethanol, used in hand sanitizers.

Israel and the Australian city of Melbourne, subject to draconian restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, began a gradual deconfinement on Sunday, as Europe, faced with a powerful second wave, takes the opposite path.

After a month of restrictions, nurseries, kindergartens, national parks and beaches have reopened in Israel, …

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