As Covid-19 cases surge around the world owing to new strains of the virus, many countries have gone back to reimposing lockdowns to curb the spread. The situation turned complex when several European Union nations said it will not use the Oxford AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine over fears of the jabs causing blood clots in its recipients.
As new mutations of the virus come to light, countries can do little but to impose shutdowns in order to avoid a repeat of what happened a year ago.
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Here is a list of countries that have imposed lockdowns:
France: Several European countries have re-imposed restrictions to combat the new wave of infections. About 21 million people in 16 areas of France, including Paris, are currently under a month-long lockdown as the country fears a third wave. Prime Minister Jean Castex said this was the only possible way to tackle the rising cases in the country.
Poland: In Poland, which is seeing the highest number of daily cases since November, new measures have forced non-essential shops and other facilities to close for three weeks. “We are losing control over how the pandemic is developing,” President Andrzej Duda said in Parliament while announcing the lockdown.
Hungary: Hungary, too, has extended its Covid-19 restrictions from March 8 onwards. Nurseries and primary schools will remain closed until April 7, all non-essential shops will be shut for a two-week period and services — not including private healthcare — have been suspended until the end of the month. While public areas and parks will remain open, fitness centres and gyms have been shut. Employers have been urged to permit their employees to work from home.
Italy: Italy has also been struggling to combat a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, this time fuelled by a new and more contagious variant. A majority of regions — including those containing Rome and Milan — were classified by Health Minister Roberto Speranza as high-risk red zones, with all residents told to stay home except for work, health or other essential reasons.
Belgium: Belgium has reintroduced strict lockdown measures in response to a worrying surge in new Covid-19 infections, with the government saying that schools would close and residents would have limited access to non-essential businesses. Under the new rules, non-essential shops can remain open but customers will need to book appointments to be allowed inside. Hairdressers and beauty parlours have to close again for four weeks.
Philippines: The Philippines government, too, has ordered a lockdown in and around Manila as the capital struggles to cope with a surge in infections. “The virus is the enemy, not the government,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, announcing the week-long measure which begins on Monday. The Philippines reported 9,838 coronavirus cases on Friday, the biggest daily jump since the pandemic began.
Kenya: Similarly, Kenya has also reimposed Covid-19 restrictions after its positivity rate jumped to 22%, a 20% increase since January. Informing about the curbs in capital Nairobi and the surrounding counties, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “These counties are individually and collectively declared a disease-infected area. There shall be a cessation of all movement by road, rail or air into and out of the disease-infected areas as one zoned area.”