Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Lockdown or relaxation: how are things in the countries around us? | NOW


In the Netherlands, the number of new positive corona tests is still increasing, but at the same time a relaxation of some corona measures is being considered. Other countries also wonder to what extent the current corona figures offer room for more freedom. This is how things are in the countries around us.

Belgium: more infections, no major easing for the time being

Recently, Belgium has been cautiously optimistic: the number of new positive tests has been declining for weeks. On Monday, however, it became clear that the number of new infections has increased for the first time since February 11. According to the models, this increase is likely to continue in the coming weeks, reports GARDEN Monday.

In Belgium, an average of more than two thousand people test positive for the corona virus every day, an increase of 5 percent compared to a week earlier. The number of hospital admissions is also on the rise. In the past week, this was an increase of 4 percent to an average of 123 per day.

Frank Vanderbroucke, the Belgian Minister of Health, expects that little or no relaxation can be implemented in the coming weeks. “In three weeks, the British variant of the coronavirus will be predominant in Belgium and then we can estimate how contagious that variant is,” said Vanderbroucke on Sunday in conversation with VTM.

Belgium is in a similar lockdown as the Netherlands. However, barber shops in the country were allowed to open their doors two weeks ago to increase the well-being of residents. People with other non-medical contact professions will probably be able to receive clients again from 1 March.

Germany: end of lockdown in sight, but figures are stagnating

Germany has been dealing with stagnating figures for weeks. The lockdown, which has been in effect since December, is bearing fruit, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), but the number of new confirmed cases remains too high, according to the institute.

On Saturday the number of new positive tests was 9,164 and on Sunday it was 7,676. On Monday, 4,369 new cases were reported, but on the days after the weekend, German corona numbers are typically lower.

“We may be at a turning point,” said RKI boss Lothar Wieler on Friday. He referred to the British coronavirus variant, said WDR. Like other European countries, Germany is cautious about easing, because the effect of the British variant of the coronavirus should become clear in the coming weeks.

Despite this, schools and day care centers will reopen in ten German regions on Monday. Critics question the timing.

The lockdown in Germany will last until March 7 at least. The authorities also extended the entry ban this week for travelers from countries where a relatively large number of people are infected with new variants of the corona virus. This applies to the United Kingdom and South Africa, among others.

Primary school children in Dortmund must wear a mouth mask in class.

United Kingdom: pace of vaccination leads to more freedoms

In contrast to the EU countries, vaccinations are fast in the United Kingdom. One third of the population has now received a vaccine. The number of positive tests daily is still large (10,641 on Monday), but has been declining slowly for weeks.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came up with a roadmap on Monday to “carefully” emerge from the lockdown. Schools and universities are expected to reopen on 8 March.

From March 29, when the Easter holidays start, the government will allow more social contact in the open air. The rule of six will return: six people from a maximum of six households are allowed to meet outside.

The Roadmap only applies to England as different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These have been introduced by the governments of these three constituent countries.

France: Short-term easing uncertain

Developments in recent days make possible easing in the short term uncertain, government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned in French media on Sunday. The number of diagnosed infections is increasing daily by more than 22,000 and the pressure on hospitals remains unabated.

On Monday it was decided to introduce a partial lockdown in the regions where the number of positive tests is increasing fastest. For the next two weekends, residents of the Sea-Alps region on the Côte d’Azur must stay indoors. In that region, the number of new infections rose three times as fast as the national average.

However, the country wants to avoid a third full lockdown. However, other strict measures apply in the country. The curfew, which is relatively strict compared to other countries and is in effect from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, was introduced on January 16 and was initially valid for 15 days. Although the situation in the country was stable for some time, France did not yet see an opportunity to relax the curfew.

Denmark: stable figures, country wants to relax slowly

In Denmark, around 500 new positive tests have been identified every day in recent weeks. Reason for the Danish government to consider how society can be gradually reopened.

The current lockdown in the country will officially end on February 28. The government is expected to come up with a plan for gradual relaxation this week, reports The Local.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on Facebook on Monday that the restrictions will not be lifted completely. “It is the unanimous opinion of experts that this is not possible,” said the minister.

Magnus Heunicke, the Danish health minister, expects that measures could be more relaxed in some regions than in the rest of the country. In order to relax – and to gain a better insight into the spread of the virus – he announced last week that he wanted to test parts of the population twice a week.



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