International

Coronavirus digest: Germany cases reach record high, France locks down

Germany hit a record of over 18,000 daily infections ahead of tougher measures coming into force on Monday. France heads into a strict second lockdown with residents largely confined to their homes.

Germany reported 18,681 new infections within the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute, the public health agency responsible for disease control and prevention, reported on Friday.

The figure is the highest-recorded in Germany and is an increase from Thursday, when over 16,000 new cases were recorded.

In response to the sustained rise in infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week announced strict lockdown measuresthat set to come into force on Monday for four weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. During this period, restaurants, bars, sports and cultural venues will be shuttered and there will be limits to public and private gatherings.

Europe

As parts of Europe see a spike in COVID-19 cases and several countries head back into partial lockdowns, the European Commission has agreed to make €220 million available to help the European Union member states with the cross-border transfer of patients.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday called on EU nations to improve cooperation in their responses to the pandemic, which has claimed more than 210,000 lives across the continent.

France: France’s 65 million population entered a second lockdown on Friday as daily infections crossed 90,000. For the next month, people will be confined to an area of 1 kilometer from their homes, requiring written permission to leave except for going grocery shopping or attending school.

All non-essential businesses will be shut and people will be required to work from home if possible. Residents face a €135 ($157) fine for violations. 

UK: Another 2 million people are being put under the government’s highest level of restrictions to tackle the spread of COVID-19. 

The West Yorkshire Region of Northern England will be placed under Tier 3 restrictions from Monday, civic leaders said.

Most pubs and some businesses will close and people will be barred from meeting indoors with members of other households.

Asia

Japan: Coronavirus cases topped 100,000, nine months after the first case was found in mid-January, the Health Ministry said Friday. The country reached this mark after confirming 808 new cases on Thursday.

The country was in a state of emergency in April and May and experienced a less serious second wave in August but has so far managed to avoid the “explosive” infections seen in Europe and the US without enforcing lockdowns. Some experts think this is in part due to the common use of face masks and disinfectant.

Americas

Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday said it was “crazy” for countries to start going into a lockdown again to control the second resurgence of the virus. Parts of Latin America are reporting their highest single-day rise in the past few weeks. 

The United States on Thursday topped 90,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the first time. The country, which is battling a resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak, recorded 91,295 cases on Thursday. 

The total tally of cases in the US since the start of the pandemic is at 8.94 million. Over 228,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States, more than any other country.