Greece became the latest country to announce a partial lockdown Saturday to combat soaring coronavirus infections, and news reports suggested England may soon follow as other countries faced growing protests over restrictions.
Portugal is also considering tighter restrictions as the infections hit record numbers there, while Slovakia launched an ambitious programme to test its entire population.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,189,892 people since emerging in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP Saturday. At least 45,650,850 cases have been registered.
Based on the latest 24-hour reports from Friday, the countries with the most new deaths were the United States with 919, followed by India with 551 and France with 545.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared a partial coronavirus lockdown in a televised address Saturday. “We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger,” he said.
“The virus is attacking in waves, and we need to quickly adapt.” The new lockdown will close restaurants and other leisure activities in Athens and other major cities from Tuesday.
The rest of the country will have to abide by an overnight curfew in addition to the compulsory use of masks even outdoors, Mitsotakis said.
– England may return to lockdown -According to reports in several British news outlets, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also considering a fresh lockdown across England from next week.
Johnson is expected to announce on Monday stringent new rules closing all but “essential” stores, while keeping schools, colleges and universities open, The Times said.
The Daily Telegraph was more circumspect, suggesting that Johnson was to discuss the situation over the weekend with senior advisers and ministers and hold a cabinet meeting on Sunday to sign off on any final decisions.
More than 46,000 people have died of the virus in Britain — more than any other European country.
The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already reimposed partial lockdowns to try to cut their surging rates.
Last month, the government’s scientific advisers recommended a two-week national “circuit-breaker” lockdown over the half-term school holidays this week, but Johnson rejected the move.
“Government delay has cost both lives and livelihoods,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, of the main opposition Labour party, tweeted. “We must act now to protect both.”
Some countries that have already reintroduced lockdowns, at varying degrees of severity, are now facing a backlash from disgruntled citizens.