Hard-hit countries step up virus measures as cases mount

Hard-hit countries step up virus measures as cases mount


London: The country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic announced further measures on Friday to deal with the growing number of infections. The number of cases worldwide has exceeded 21 million.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it will ban non-essential travel through border crossings with Canada and Mexico for most of September to “slow the spread of the disease.”

At the same time, as Paris is facing the rise of a second wave of infections, the United Kingdom has included France on the list of countries subject to a two-week quarantine requirement for holidaymakers who must return from Saturday.

The number of confirmed cases in France has reached the highest level since May, with more than 2500 new cases every May, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The growing threat prompted the Paris police to announce on Friday that they would extend the mandatory use of masks outdoors to more areas of the French capital, including the famous Louvre and the Champs Elysées.

“If the epidemiological situation deteriorates again, mask-wearing could become compulsory throughout the capital,” Paris police warned, also banning gatherings and protests of more than 10 people which do not comply with distancing measures.

Neighbouring Spain said it would close all nightclubs and ban smoking in the street where people are unable to stay at a safe distance, after the country reported almost 3,000 cases in 24 hours on Thursday.

“Personally I think it’s stupid, it’s over the top,” Madrid-based translator Julien Garcia told AFP about the smoking ban.

In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute for Disease Control has added the whole of Spain except the Canary Islands to the list of areas where visitors to Hong Kong must undergo a 14-day negative test for COVID-19 or quarantine in.

Austria urges its citizens to repatriate from Croatia, a popular Mediterranean destination, before similar regulations come into effect on Monday, while Serbia imposes mandatory tests on travelers from four neighboring countries.

Thousands of Albanians waited in line for their cars at the Greek border, hoping to squeeze through and return to work before stricter entry requirements aimed at preventing more and more infections take effect.

An Albanian police source said someone had waited for three days in a traffic jam of 4,000 vehicles at 20 kilometers (12 miles).

According to Agence France-Presse, globally, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday exceeded 21 million, and the death toll exceeded 755,000.

The United States had the highest number of deaths at 168,318, followed by Brazil at 105,463, Mexico at 55,293 and India at 48,040.

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