May 26, 2020
Breaking News
April 13, 20205min1430

Coronavirus: Spain, France’s new cases plateau as factory workers ordered to work

There appear to be good news and light at the end of the tunnel in both Spain and France, two of the worst-hit countries from coronavirus as new infections plateau signalling substantial optimism to curb the novel virus.
For days officials expected curve as they raced to ramp up testing, isolation, provision of  personal protective equipment (PPE) to deal with the virulent virus which has become a pandemic.
In Spain, some sections of the economy have been ordered to reopen especially factory and construction workers.
Deaths increased by 619 in the past 24 hours and were likely to exceed 17,000 on Sunday, but Spanish health ministry figures showed new cases had grown by 2.6% over the same period – the lowest rate since the pandemic took off in the country a month ago and caseloads started increasing by one-fifth every day.
Evidence that a strict lockdown, in place since 14 March, was working came as some factory and construction workers prepared to return to work on Monday, a call that has drawn criticism in some quarters.
In a letter to the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, Catalonia’s regional president asked to see the medical and epidemiological advice on which the decision was taken. Quim Torra also suggested that the move would provoke “a rise in infections and a situation of collapse for Catalonia’s health system”.

Speaking after a videoconference with the leaders of Spain’s autonomous regions on Sunday afternoon, Sánchez said the country remained firmly in lockdown despite the easing of restrictions on non-essential workers. Those returning to work were being advised to maintain social distancing and face masks will be handed out in metro and rail stations.

“I want to be very clear,” he said. “We are not entering a phase of de-escalation. The state of emergency is still in force and so is the lockdown. The only thing that has come to an end is the two-week extreme economic hibernation period.”

The prime minister said anyone who was ill or pregnant, or showing even the mildest symptoms, should stay at home. “General confinement will remain the rule for the next two weeks and the only people allowed out will be those going to authorised jobs or making authorised purchases,” he said.

Sánchez said there could be a “progressive and very cautious” relaxation of the lockdown “in two weeks’ time at the earliest” – but only if current trends continued.

Sánchez has warned the lockdown is likely to be extended beyond 26 April. Under the rules of confinement, people are allowed to leave their homes only to got to work or to buy food or medicine. He also called for unity in the face of what he termed an unprecedented “total war” and urged a de-escalation of political tensions. “We are dealing with a completely new situation … I do not have – nor will I have – any enemy but this virus.”

In France, new infections are expected to tapper off as President Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation for a third time later on Monday but is expected to stress the need for the lockdown to continue.

France reported 315 deaths in hospital over the last day, compared with 345 the day before.

Globally, more than 114,000 people have died from the new coronavirus, while nearly 422,000 have recovered, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

(Sources: Agencies)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *