Covid-19 wrap | Australia's Melbourne celebrates end of lockdown but virus ravages Europe, US

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  • Australia's control of its outbreak stood in stark contrast to the surging virus in Europe, as Melbourne celebrates the ending of a months-long lockdown.
  • Germany regularly reporting 10 000 new infections every day, daily cases in France topping 50 000, and hospitals in Belgium nearing capacity.
  • France may extend the hours of an existing curfew, with possibly a full lockdown on weekends.


Australia cheers end of Melbourne lockdown but virus ravages Europe, US

Champagne corks popped in Australia's second-biggest city as a months-long coronavirus lockdown ended on Wednesday, contrasting with deepening gloom in Europe where France and Germany were set to reintroduce curbs.

Much of the United States - the worst-hit nation in the world - is also bracing for a tough winter, but there was exhilaration and relief in Melbourne as its five million people were able to return to shops and restaurants after months at home.

Australia's control of its outbreak stood in stark contrast to the surging virus in Europe, with Germany regularly reporting 10 000 new infections every day, daily cases in France topping 50 000, and hospitals in Belgium nearing capacity.

Media reports in France, meanwhile, said President Emmanuel Macron may extend the hours of an existing curfew, with possibly a full lockdown on weekends, or order targeted lockdowns in the hardest-hit regions.

And in Russia, an order making masks mandatory at public gatherings, on public transport and in elevators is set to come into force on Wednesday, state news agency TASS reported.

AFP

Merkel wants to close all bars, restaurants to halt virus spread - Bild

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to agree at a meeting with leaders of the states on Wednesday to close all restaurants and bars from 4 November in a bid to curb coronavirus infections but keep schools and nurseries open, newspaper Bild reported.

It cited a draft resolution as saying Merkel wanted to agree with the 16 premiers of the states to close fitness studios, casinos and cinemas along with theatres, opera houses and concert venues but allow shops to remain open if they implement hygiene measures and limit customer numbers.

The report said the federal government wanted to provide financial aid to firms affected by closures, adding that a concept for this would be presented later on Wednesday.

It also said that people should only be able to go out in public with members of their own household and one other household. It said people would be punished if they did not respect that but did not give further details.

Reuters

France must accept new national lockdown, says hospital professor

Professor Philippe Juvin, a leading member of Paris' Georges-Pompidou hospital, told RTL radio on Wednesday that France had to accept a new, national lockdown to tackle a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus.

"We must take it up," said Juvin.

French President Emmanuel Macron will give a televised address on Wednesday evening. His government has been exploring a new, national lockdown from midnight on Thursday, BFM TV reported, albeit a slightly more flexible one than the two-month shutdown that began in mid-March.

Reuters

Canada's Trudeau predicts 'tough winter,' deaths top 10 000

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday predicted a "tough winter" in the face of a second wave of Covid-19 infections engulfing much of the country, and called it a horrific national tragedy as deaths topped the 10 000 mark.

Canada's case numbers have been rising, triggering new restrictions on public gatherings and indoor activities in several provinces. On Tuesday, Canada recorded 2 674 new cases, while there are now 10 001 deaths and a total of 222 887 cases.

"This sucks. It really, really does," Trudeau told a news conference when asked about the fatigue Canadians feel after living amid the pandemic for more than seven months.

The comments marked a rare show of emotion and frustration from Trudeau, who has regularly given nationally televised briefings to reassure Canadians that his Liberal government is managing the crisis as best it can.

Reuters

Europe must be more efficient with Covid policies - EU Council president

The situation in Europe, where coronavirus infections are surging, is "serious and alarming" and the bloc must be more efficient with testing, contact tracing, vaccine and quarantine policies, the EU Council President said.

"We need more efficiency in intercepting (the virus) before citizens infect each other. We need strong planning, otherwise we will have systematic lockdowns in coming months," Charles Michel told Italian daily La Stampa in an interview published on Wednesday.

Michel said coordination was also needed to limit the "negative economic and social effects" of the pandemic, when asked whether Europe feared a wave of social unrest.

He added that the area will need to be prepared when vaccines become available. "It will not be easy to manage that phase."

Reuters
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