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Europe Virus Stars Scramble After Declaring Victory Too Fast

Stock MarketsSep 16, 2020 07:09AM ET
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© Reuters. Europe Virus Stars Scramble After Declaring Victory Too Fast

(Bloomberg) -- When more than 2,000 people gathered on Prague’s medieval Charles Bridge in a “farewell party” for Covid-19 in June, it was to celebrate one of Europe’s most effective efforts to halt the virus’s spread.

The Czech government, which had acted faster and more strictly than almost any other in the European Union, lifted rules on social distancing and mandatory masks wearing. Two months later, it’s trying to contain an explosion of new cases that has eclipsed numbers seen earlier this year when the virus raged across Europe.

In an unfortunately growing trend, eastern EU states that acted more decisively than peers like France and Spain are battling a resurgence that took root when restrictions fell. Governments loath to shut down schools and businesses after lockdowns hammered their economies are facing pressure at home, while their neighbors are erecting new limits on travel.

“In June, we all felt like the virus was gone,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Sunday. “Unfortunately, we were wrong.”

With cases rising again worldwide, in the eastern EU, authorities from Slovenia and Croatia to Romania have taken a lax approach toward imposing fines for mask-wearing violations.

In the latter, which reported a new daily record of 1,713 coronavirus cases and 49 new fatalities on Wednesday, students protested against reopening schools and called for the education minister to resign, while several thousand people protested against face coverings in Zagreb earlier this month.

In Hungary, new infections have doubled each week in September to eclipse those seen at the start of the pandemic. Eight people died on Wednesday, matching the highest daily count since May 29.

“Compared with the rest of Europe, the pandemic is raging in Hungary as a proportion of population,” Ferenc Jakab, head of the virology research group at the University of Pecs, said at an online conference Tuesday. “That’s the dark truth.”

Still, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is resisting measures that will shut down parts of the economy after the country suffered one of the worst downturns in the region. His Romanian counterpart, Ludovic Orban (who’s not related), also announced it was up to citizens to stay safe.

“I don’t think new restrictions should be imposed,” the Romanian leader said. “Quite the contrary, we need a permanent dialogue and to help people understand that they’re the ones that have to protect themselves.”

Babis also rejects shutting down the economy again, even after the Czechs’ former federation partners, Slovakia, put it on its red list for accepting travelers.

The Czech premier overrode government epidemiologists’ recommendations last month for mandatory mask wearing in public. He also attacked the World Health Organization after it expressed concern over the worsening situation and criticized his government for considering cutting down on tracing cases.

Along with other leaders who just weeks ago declared the virus defeated, he has since ordered people to wear masks and be more vigilant.

“I want to ask all of you, please, to persuade those, who aren’t wearing them, to start wearing them,” he said Sunday. “We’re in the same boat. We have to get through this together.”

 

Europe Virus Stars Scramble After Declaring Victory Too Fast
 

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Comments (6)
Jeff Bullard
Jeff Bullard Sep 17, 2020 11:05AM ET
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Lockdowns and distancing are/were always temporary.   The virus will always return in wave after waves unless the population has sufficient immunity to prevent the spread.  A vaccine would be nice but it was never a reasonable expectation to wait 2-3 years of lockdowns and distancing for a vaccine to be developed, tested, produced, distributed and gradually take effect. Most of the world is in the process of achieving effective herd immunity in the ~ 20% range.   Sweden got it.  Half the United States now has it.   Then cases start dropping regardless of policy.
Clinton Ronnenberg
Clinton Ronnenberg Sep 17, 2020 11:05AM ET
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Spot on, Jeff. 👍
Jeff Bullard
Jeff Bullard Sep 17, 2020 11:01AM ET
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Lockdowns and distancing is temporary.  Immunity is permanent. The virus will always return in wave after waves until a population has sufficient immunity to prevent the spread.  By natural infection that proportion is about 20% (heterogeneous HIT).  By vaccination that proportion is about 60% (homogeneous HIT).
Sally Hillal
Sally Hillal Sep 17, 2020 10:47AM ET
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Covid 19 is an engineered virus , Either China won WW III with the help of the free worlds politicians or this is the reduction of population needed to usher in the one world government praise Lucifer.
Tim Mcdaniel
Tim Mcdaniel Sep 17, 2020 2:12AM ET
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the global hoax lives on
Sally Hillal
Sally Hillal Sep 17, 2020 2:12AM ET
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It is working.
Joe Lockwell
Joe Lockwell Sep 16, 2020 11:00PM ET
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The people screaming about how "deadly" Covid is......are the Democrats and their fake media.   But in their OWN PERSONAL LIVES.....they act like Covid is NO THREAT TO THEM.   Just look at Nancy Pelosi who violated Covid regulations in San Francisco and CNN's Chris Cuomo who was said he was quarantined because he had covid......while he went outside of his house multiple tiimes. For the record.......MOST people are infected with a given virus at any given time...but they don't know it because they are immune to it.   Just like Covid.
Eric Peterson
Eric Peterson Sep 16, 2020 11:00PM ET
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on the one hand Covid is not deadly at all and a dem hoax. Trump did great by not controlling its spread. the other hand China must pay deadrly for having supposedly 'engineered' this deadly virus and infecting the West particularly the US with it. Such is and should be the logic of the Republican party and all right thinking Republicans and Independents. Oh and BTW all Asians are guilty by association and must be assulted in the streets as a result. Such is the logic
Frank Skidmore
Frank Skidmore Sep 16, 2020 9:50AM ET
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There appears to be more courage and freedom in Europe than in America... Shame on us.
Sally Hillal
Sally Hillal Sep 16, 2020 9:50AM ET
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Meds too weak?
 
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