New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jessina Arden announced on Monday that her country had been able to “re – defeat” the Corona virus, removing restrictions on the country’s largest city, Auckland, after the outbreak there was completely halted.
New Zealand, it will be recalled, came out of the strict quarantine imposed on it in May and for 102 days the authorities did not report a single case of infection within the community, and residents were able to enjoy an almost full routine life. But in August the virus broke out again in the city of Auckland, which has 1.5 million inhabitants, and it went into a closure that lasted nearly three weeks.
Arden announced today the lifting of restrictions in the city, after not reporting any new infection for 12 days. She congratulated the residents of the city and thanked them for standing in another closure. “It felt like it was going on and on and on, in a year that already feels too long,” she said. “But despite that, the Auckland and New Zealanders stuck to a plan that is now working twice already, and defeated the virus again.”
Arden noted that from Wednesday evening (local time), Auckland will join the rest of the country and its readiness will drop to level 1, the lowest on a four-tier scale that directs government activity when it comes to actions to curb the virus.
Such a level means no more restrictions on social gatherings, and a rugby match between New Zealand and Australia could also take place later this month in Auckland, in a stadium full of spectators. “This is good news for Oakland fans to enjoy the game,” said the New Zealand National Rugby Team.
As she did when she announced the first victory over the virus, Arden emphasized in her remarks that the people of Israel should continue to drive carefully. “A new outbreak of the virus is not only our concern, but also a new outbreak of complacency,” she said. She noted that the corona virus “will continue to be with us for the next few months. But we still need to mark this milestone.”
It is important to emphasize that when New Zealanders talk about a new outbreak, these are still very low numbers, even in relation to the number of its inhabitants (about 5 million). To date, the state has reported 1,499 people infected with the outbreak and 25 deaths. There are currently 40 active patients. New Zealand’s success in curbing the virus strengthens political support for Arden, and it is now considered a favorite to win next weekend’s general election, on October 17.
When New Zealand removes restrictions, Europe and many other countries facing a resurgence are forced to reinstate them. Paris, the capital of France, was today placed on the highest level of alert against the spread of the virus. This means that the symbols of the City of Lights – its cafes – will be forced to close their gates. Bars will also have to close, but restaurants will be able to continue to operate under stricter and stricter restrictions.
“These are preventative measures, because the epidemic is spreading too fast,” said Paris police chief Didier Lemlo. On Saturday, France reported a new daily record of infections – 17,000 in one day. In Paris, 3,500 people were diagnosed that day, but the peak there was reached last Monday, with almost 6,000 people infected.
As might be expected, Parisian cafés are angry about the new restrictions and fear the economic difficulties that await them. Industry workers said authorities were “marking” them and acting unfairly on them. “We maintain very good behavior, keeping an eye on our customers,” said Remy, manager of the morning shift at a cafe-restaurant in central Paris. “Everything is clean, everyone wears masks. People become irresponsible precisely when they spend time at home. No one wears a mask in the evening with friends, me either,” he told AFP.
Liam Prussia, owner of an Irish pub in Paris, said profits in the business fell by 70% even before the new restrictions, compared to the period before the outbreak of the plague, and that his business lost 2,000 euros every day of activity. “Closing it is a kind of relief, the truth,” he admitted. He poured himself one last glass before locking the pub, saying, “It’s cheaper than staying open.” He said he left the pub open so as not to lose customers, nor to make a profit. “Now I’m going to lose them anyway, to restaurants.”
New restrictions have also been imposed in Iran, where a re-emergence of the virus is being tackled. Authorities today reported a new daily record of new infections, 3,902. In Iran, where the corona has hit harder than any other country in the Middle East, the death toll is also rising – and in the last day, 235 corona patients have died there. This figure equates to the daily high recorded at the end of July.
At the outbreak of the plague, Iran reports 475,674 people infected and 27,192 dead – although many inside and outside the Islamic Republic accuse the ayatollahs of covering up the real data, which they say is much higher.
Following the renewed jump, restrictions were imposed on the capital Tehran on Sunday, where according to the Iranian Ministry of Health the situation is particularly “worrying”. As part of these restrictions, schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions were closed for a week in Tehran. According to state media, similar restrictions have been imposed in northwestern Iran’s province and in several other cities – which have closed cafes, restaurants, gyms, beauty salons and museums.
Iranian Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat has warned that most of Iran’s provinces are now at risk of widespread infection – 26 of the country’s 31 provinces are classified as “red” and four more as “orange.” She warned that hospitals are reporting congestion and that if the outbreak worsens, field hospitals may need to be set up.
Authorities in Iran are urging residents to abide by the guidelines, amid claims that many do not wear masks and that families go on trips and forbidden visits. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that those who violated the guidelines should receive “severe” fines.
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