Countries are watching on with interest to see how some of the heaviest-hit countries in Europe will respond to increased freedoms of movement.
France, Italy and Spain are preparing to relax some of their more draconian coronavirus measures, with other countries really paying attention.
After the U.S., the aforementioned countries have the highest numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, according to John Hopkins University. The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic passed 200,000 on Saturday, with more than 2.9m confirmed cases.
Following a statement by the World Health Organization on Saturday that there is no evidence people who had recovered from COVID-19 enjoy immunity from further infections, the organization retracted part of the claim, saying it expected former carriers to develop some level of immunity but that it was unknown how much or how long the protection would last.
Europe (gradually) opens its doors
Italy, which was the first country in Europe to impose a lockdown in March, has seen close to 200,000 infections and at least 26,384 deaths, yet Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the country’s manufacturing sector could restart as soon as May 4. Schools, however, will remain closed until September. Elsewhere, France’s Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, has said he will present a national exit strategy to parliament on Tuesday. At least 22,614 people have died in the country from COVID-19.
On Sunday, health authorities in Spain said recent figures showed a “clear descending trend”. The government’s decision to allow some non-essential workers to return to their jobs two weeks ago has apparently not had any negative impact thus far, they added.
The growth rate of new cases in the country stands at 0.8%–down from 3% in recent weeks and 38% when the state of emergency was declared in mid-March. Several other European countries have already announced a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. Others imposed less restrictive measures from the start, such as Sweden, where stores, restaurants, and elementary schools have remained open. Yet Sweden’s death rate from the virus is considerably higher than its Scandinavian neighbors.