Lots of European countries on Saturday urged the public to stick to restriction measures during the Easter holiday as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued his coronavirus recovery in hospital.
Spain and France, which are among the hardest-hit European countries, embraced some signs of hope on Saturday in their fight against the coronavirus.
The number of deaths in a 24-hour period from COVID-19 fell for the third consecutive day in Spain, according to data collected by the country’s Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare by 21:00 hours on Friday and made public on Saturday.
The total number of people who have succumbed to the virus-caused disease in Spain rose by 510 to 16,353, fewer than the 605 new deaths in the previous 24-hour period and the 683 confirmed on Thursday. It was the fewest daily number of COVID-19 deaths since March 23.
However, the data should be treated with caution due to the fact that Thursday and Friday were public holidays, which could have led to delay in reporting data. Spain’s tally of infections stood at 161,852 by Saturday.
In neighboring France, 2,044 patients were hospitalized in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s total hospitalized COVID-19 patients to 31,320, including 6,883 in intensive care units (ICUs).
The number of patients in ICUs was down by 121 on a daily basis, a third-day consecutive decline.
“It is another very slight decrease in the need of (intensive care) place,” which will “relieve our caregivers, especially in intensive care,” said Director General of Health Jerome Salomon.
Across the English Channel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making “very good progress” as he continues his coronavirus recovery in hospital, Downing Street said Saturday.
Johnson was moved to a general ward on Thursday evening after spending three days in intensive care. He was taken to the hospital on Sunday, 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
The death toll of those hospitalized in Britain who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has reached 9,875 as of Friday afternoon.
Despite good news from Downing Street, Britain’s coronavirus lockdown, like many European nations, faces its most serious test this weekend as it marks the Easter bank holiday.
Wary of any excess of optimism, French Director General of Health Salomon stressed “hospital pressure remains strong.”
“A very high epidemic plateau seems to be emerging. We absolutely must continue to remain vigilant,” he said. “The time is not for de-confinement…but perhaps even more for the strict respect of confinement, barrier gestures and social distancing.”
Cypriot experts also strongly warned against a premature relaxation of the lockdown measures.
Leondios Kostrikis, a University of Cyprus professor of virology, who advises the Health Ministry, said “We are at a critical phase and we do not have a margin to make a mistake… Our advice is still the same, stay at home.”
Marios Loizou, scientific director at the Nicosia Directorate of the Cyprus State Health Services Organization, also came out in support of the World Health Organization, warning that a premature relaxation of lockdown measures could lead to a deadly resurgence.
In Italy where the coronavirus pandemic has claimed 19,468 lives, Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri warned about underestimating risks of the pandemic.
“This dramatic emergency will finally be behind us only after an effective vaccine is discovered,” Arcuri stressed. “Without it, there is only one antidote left: our behavior, which must all work in the direction of preventing and containing contagion.”
The Italian Interior Ministry issued a stern notice on the eve of Easter festivities, which for Italians would especially coincide with open-air trips and family lunches in normal times.
“Police controls have been strengthened across the territory, and especially in the perspective of the weekend over Easter holidays (Sunday and Monday),” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
In Poland, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also urged all Poles to stay at home during the Easter holidays, as the country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 6,000 on Saturday.
CALL FOR UNITY
Also on Saturday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for solidarity within Europe, saying that “Germany cannot emerge from the crisis strong and healthy if our neighbors are not strong and healthy.”
In a rare televised speech, Steinmeier said the international solidarity should bring about a global alliance to search for a COVID-19 vaccine. And that “the poorest countries in the world, which are the most vulnerable, should have equal access” to any such treatment.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, almost 120,000 people in Germany have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 2,500 have died as of Friday midnight.
Eurogroup finance ministers agreed Thursday night on a financial package worth half a trillion euros to combat the fallouts from coronavirus, but without the so-called Eurobonds.
French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday that the European Union’s (EU) package of financial measures is “a major step towards more European solidarity” as it supports the bloc’s most affected members and helps prepare the post-pandemic recovery.
“It’s an excellent agreement because it shows the unity of European countries during this period of crisis. It’s excellent because it allows the immediate release of 550 billion euros (602 billion U.S. dollars) to finance all the European economies, notably the most severely impacted ones,” Le Maire told Europe 1 radio. Enditem