Europe clamps down as pandemic worsens

Foreign Desk Report

MADRID: The coronavirus situation in Europe continued to deteriorate, with French authorities warning that Paris could be put on maximum alert and Spain extending drastic restrictions across its capital Madrid.
By 2000 GMT Thursday the pandemic had killed at least 1,019,267 people around the world and infected over 34 million, according to an AFP tally based on official sources. French authorities said they may place Paris on maximum virus alert as soon as Monday, potentially requiring all bars to close as the number of cases surges.
“We re in a phase where the situation is worsening,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said. Spain, fighting a second wave of the virus, also extended drastic restrictions across its capital, despite fierce opposition from Madrid s regional authorities, and most other regions have agreed to tighten curbs in areas of rapid contagion.
Madrid is struggling with a rate of 780 cases per 100,000 people, compared with just 300 per 100,000 in the rest of Spain which in itself is the highest in the European Union. In Britain, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance told reporters “things are definitely heading in the wrong direction” as the government extended lockdowns to several towns in northern England, effectively putting more than a quarter of the country under tighter coronavirus restrictions.
And the Slovak and Czech governments both decided to impose states of emergency, starting Thursday and next Monday respectively, to allow them to take quick decisions in the face of considerable upticks in infections and deaths.
In the sporting world, Italian football suffered a blow with the postponement of Genoa s weekend match against Torino because team and staff members at the Ligurian club tested positive for the coronavirus. Nevertheless, European football s governing body, UEFA, said that it will allow spectators back into matches in the Champions League and its other club and international competitions “at a maximum of 30 percent” capacity.
In Switzerland, stadium crowds also returned for the first time since the pandemic began, but Health Minister Alain Berset said the Alpine country was entering a “delicate phase” of its battle against the virus. “It’s the start of autumn, it is a bit colder outside and the coronavirus continues to complicate our lives,” he said on Twitter.