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France to implement curfew to stem coronavirus: Macron

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French President Emmanuel Macron. (File Photo IANS)

Paris, Oct 15 (IANS) A curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. will be implemented in the greater Paris region and eight other big cities in France starting from Friday midnight, and it will last for at least four weeks to stem the spread of coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday.

“A curfew will apply to the Ile-de-France region…and eight metropolitan areas — Grenoble, Lille, Rouen, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Montpellier and Rouen,” Macron said in a televised interview, Xinhua news agency reported.

France has been in a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic with an average of 20,000 new infection cases per day. “We have now entered a phase to which we must react… The virus is everywhere in France,” Macron added.

The situation is worrying and the curfew is a “pertinent” measure while having the whole country locked down again would be “disproportionate”, he explained.

“We have not lost control. We are in a situation which is worrying and which justifies that we are neither inactive nor in panic. We have learned from the first wave,” Macron said.

The curfew does not ban driving between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., but travel will be strictly limited unless with good reasons.

“We must continue to be able to go to work in all sectors,” said Macron. “For those who have emergencies, health for example, there will be authorisations.”

Prime Minister Jean Castex will address a press conference on Thursday to unveil details of these measures, Macron added.

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Cinema halls reopen in Bengal with Covid restrictions

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New Delhi Sanitisation drive underway at the INOX cinema hall in New Delhi on Oct 13, 2020. Cinema halls in the national capital shall
New Delhi Sanitisation drive underway at the INOX cinema hall in New Delhi on Oct 13, 2020. Cinema halls in the national capital shall

Kolkata, Oct 15 (IANS) Almost seven months after a nationwide lockdown was imposed, movie theatres and multiplexes have reopened in West Bengal on Thursday with strict Covid-19 safety protocols for the viewers.

The theatres have reopened with only 50 per cent of its total seating capacity so that there is a minimum distance of at least 3-metres between two people watching the movie.

“We are encouraging paperless entry and digital payments at the ticket counter. One has to enter inside the movie theatre after thermal screening and a thorough sanitisation process. Masks and gloves are also being distributed to every person at the entry point before getting inside the auditorium,” said Puneet Gupta, spokesperson for INOX Leisure Ltd.

He said that all the standard Covid safety protocols are being maintained at INOX theatres across the country, including Kolkata, to avoid any health hazards. People can book movie tickets online, through both website and mobile application. People can also drop in and get an e-ticket at the counter.

“We are expecting a decent response. Most of shows will start from the afternoon. So, we would be able to share the response of tickets selling tomorrow,” he said.

“It’s a good news that movie theatres have re-opened with restrictions but we must keep the safety protocols in mind. People should not think that they can once again go watch a movie with a bid group of friends and family. We must take necessary precautions to avoid any kind of spread of Covid-19,” said actor Saswata Chattopadhyay.

Sources said that every person entering the hall must have the Aarogya Setu app installed on his phone. Person having fever or any kind of Covid symptoms will not be allowed inside the theatre.

As per guidelines, it is also mandatory to maintain a minimum of six feet distance between two individuals in the common area, waiting area and entry point at the cinema halls. Private security personnel have been deployed in adequate numbers to monitor the movements of movie buffs who will throng multiplexes Thursday onwards in Kolkata and its adjoining areas, said an official of a city multiplex.

The temperature of the air conditioner should be set at 24-30 degrees Celsius and there should be cross ventilation in the theatre. The screens should also be cleaned after every show and Covid-19 protocol should be strictly followed by the hall owners failing which action would be taken under the IPC and Disaster Management Act.

“It’s a big positive for the audience and industry people as well. It’s a great feeling that life is slowly getting back to normalcy. I am sure that the hall owners and multiplexes will take necessary precautions and carry out sanitising drives. Watching a movie in theatres has been the real mode of entertainment for people in India.

I guess people have become habituated with the safety guidelines in last seven months and going back to cinema halls will add on a whole new level of positivity in their social lives,” filmmaker Dhrubo Banerjee told IANS.

Banerjee said that a lot people involved with Kolkata’s Tollywood entertainment industry and re-opening of theatres would give them a fresh impetus in the new normal scenario.

Arijit Dutta, the owner of Kolkata’s iconic Priya Cinema hall, said: “It’s just a start. The movie theatres are re-opening in phases. It’s not that that all cinema halls and multiplexes have re-opened today. I’m sure the business will restore in next two-three months as the process has been initiated.”

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Australian state stalls easing Covid-19 curbs

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Sydney, Aug. 8, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People rest in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 6, 2020. (XinhuaBai XuefeiIANS)
Sydney, Aug. 8, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People rest in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 6, 2020. (XinhuaBai XuefeiIANS)

Sydney, Oct 15 (IANS) Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) has stalled easing Covid-19 restrictions after new cluster outbreaks were reported in the state capital of Sydney, authorities said on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, the state registered six new locally acquired infections, which followed 11 local transmissions the day before, Xinhua news agency reported.

State leaders have described the present situation it as the most concerning since mid-July, when an outbreak at a western Sydney pub resulted in over 50 cases and a clampdown on the hospitality sector.

“This is the most concerned we’ve been since that first incident when the Victorian citizen came up, infected his colleagues and went for a drink at a hotel,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a briefing.

Health officials flagged several new areas where a person had been while infected with the virus, including public transport services, a tutoring service and shopping mall.

On Tuesday, the government announced that up to 500 people would be allowed to attend outdoor music performances, as long as they remained seated and groups remained four meters apart.

Restrictions for outdoor dining venues were also relaxed, allowing one patron per two square meters, as long as venues use an electronic contact tracing system to record patrons’ contact details.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged anyone with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested, as well as to cooperate fully with questions to assist health officials with contact tracing.

“We are aiming to have at least 20,000 (tests) a day and while we have these positive cases still amongst us the emphasis is… Please get tested,” he added.

Of Australia’s 27,341 overall case tally, NSW accounts for 4,310 infections.

The country’s death toll stands at 904.

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Andhra registers 3,892 more Covid cases, tally 7.67 lakh

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future covid related stories
future covid related stories

Amaravati, Oct 14 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday registered 3,892 new Covid positive cases, increasing the state’s tally to 7.67 lakh cases, even as 5,050 recoveries outnumbered fresh infections.

East Godavari accounted for the highest number of cases at 607, followed by West Godavari (518), Krishna (458), Chittoor (405), Guntur (345), Kadapa (332), Anantapur (290), Nellore (219), Visakhapatnam (163), Srikakulam (154), Vizianagaram (151), Prakasam (146) and Kurnool (104).

East Godavari continues to battle the highest number of infections at 1.07 lakh. At the lower end, Krishna district has witnessed 32,910 cases so far.

Not just having the highest Covid tally among the 13 districts, East Godavari is also shouldering the highest active cases at 7,135.

Meanwhile, 28 patients succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, one of the lowest daily Covid death counts in the recent past.

With the new additions, the statewide Covid death toll has reached 6,319.

As always, the positive trend of higher recoveries continues to occur in the southern state. On Wednesday, 5,050 more patients recovered from the virus, raising the total number of recoveries to 7.19 lakh.

Of the total 7.67 lakh cases, the number of active cases currently stands at 41,669.

The state’s positivity rate stands at 11.3 per cent at present.

Andhra Pradesh tested 69,463 samples on Wednesday. In total, the state has tested 67.7 lakh samples for Covid until now.

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After Sputnik V, Russia approves another Covid-19 vaccine: Putin

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Moscow, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik via XinhuaIANS)
Moscow, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik via XinhuaIANS)

Moscow, Oct 14 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced that the country has registered the second Covid-19 vaccine, according to media reports.

Russia became the first country to give regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine in August when Sputnik V was officially registered ahead of large-scale clinical trial, drawing criticism from some quarters in the scientific community.

The second Russian vaccine to get regulatory approval has been developed by the Vector State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology.

Vector’s vaccine, dubbed “EpiVacCorona”, relies on chemically synthesized peptide antigens of SARS-CoV-2 proteins, conjugated to a carrier protein and adsorbed on an aluminum-containing adjuvant, according to details posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.

Putin said that a third Russian vaccine against Covid-19, developed by the Chumakov Centre, would also be registered in the near future, Sputnik news agency reported.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that she tested EpiVacCorona vaccine herself and experienced no side effects, said the report.

“The Vector centre is also initiating post-registration clinical trials in the various regions of Russia that would include 40,000 volunteers,” she was quoted as saying.

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European countries impose new Covid-19 curbs as cases spike

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London, Sept. 22, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A woman wearing a face mask walks at Covent Garden in London, Britain, on Sept. 21, 2020. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that Britain is facing a "tipping point" regarding the coronavirus pandemic and more restrictions are possible to cope with the spread of virus. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)
London, Sept. 22, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A woman wearing a face mask walks at Covent Garden in London, Britain, on Sept. 21, 2020. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that Britain is facing a "tipping point" regarding the coronavirus pandemic and more restrictions are possible to cope with the spread of virus. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)

Countries across Europe were imposing a series of new restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic amid a spike in the number of fresh cases and deaths across the continent.

As of Thursday, the continent’s overall caseload stands at 4,301,247, while the death toll has surged to 197,075, according to the latest update by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The agency said that Europe’s infection rate “has been increasing for 77 days” and there were more than 700,000 new coronavirus cases last week, which was a 36 per cent weekly increase.

In France, one of the worst-hit European countries, President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced that a curfew will be introduced in big cities as a reaction to the recent resurgence of new cases.

Starting from Friday midnight, a four-week 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew will be imposed in the greater Paris region and the eight major cities of Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Rouen, Toulouse, Montpellier and Saint-Etienne, Xinhua news agency reported.

These regions are already on maximum alert, with bars and gyms shut down, theatres and restaurants under strict health protocol.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in public spaces such as beaches and parks.

Anyone violating the curfew would be fined 135 euros, and permissions will be available for those who have health emergencies and work at night.

Presently, France has a total of 779,063 Covid-19 cases, Europe’s second biggest tally after Spain, with 33,037 deaths.

In the UK, a new three-tier Covid-19 alert system came into force across England on Wednesday.

The alert system comprises three levels: “Medium”, “High” and “Very High” with the level being decided according to local infection rate.

The UK has so far reported a total of 654,644 coronavirus cases, with 43,155 fatalities, the highest death toll in Europe.

On Wednesday, Italy, the once epicentre of the pandemic in Europe, reported its largest single-day spike, with more than 7,300 cases, which took the overall tally to 372,799, while the death toll surged to 36,289.

The grim milestone came a day after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree putting new limits on gatherings, sports and school activities.

But bars and restaurants are still allowed to operate until midnight, but only for table service, NPR news reported.

The Catalonian region of Spain has ordered all bars and restaurants to close their on-premises operations, saying they can only sell to-go items for the next 15 days.

Shopping areas, theatres and gyms will have to operate at reduced capacity.

While the Czech Republic, has closed schools, restaurants and bars, The Netherlands is enacting a partial lockdown due to a recent resurgence.

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UK’s 3-tier coronavirus alert system kicks in

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London, Oct. 13, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A man wearing a face mask walks past a shop in London, Britain, on Oct. 13, 2020. The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 143 to 43,018, marking the highest daily figure since June, according to official figures released Tuesday. Another 17,234 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 634,920, the latest data showed. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)
London, Oct. 13, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A man wearing a face mask walks past a shop in London, Britain, on Oct. 13, 2020. The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 143 to 43,018, marking the highest daily figure since June, according to official figures released Tuesday. Another 17,234 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 634,920, the latest data showed. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)

A new three-tier Covid-19 alert system set out by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come into force across England as the country struggles to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The alert system comprises three levels: “Medium”, “High” and “Very High” with the level being decided according to local infection rates, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Liverpool City Region is placed in the “very high” level which sees venues such as bars and pubs closed unless they can operate as restaurants, while people are also banned from socializing with other households.

Currently, most of England is placed in the first tier of the government’s three-tier system, which means an alert level of “medium”.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has announced that he now supported a complete two or three weeks of lockdown across England as a “circuit breaker” to halt the spread of the virus.

He proposed a temporary set of restrictions, designed to get the infection rate down, with every pub, bar and restaurant in England closed for two-to-three weeks.

Starmer said it could be timed to coincide with school half term holidays to minimize disruption.

According to a paper by two of the government’s leading scientific advisers, a “short, sharp” two-week lockdown over the October half term break could prevent more than 7,000 deaths.

On Wednesday, Johnson told MPs at Parliament that he rules out nothing in the fight against coronavirus, but that he wants to “avoid the misery of another national lockdown”.

“I rule out nothing, of course, in combating the virus but we’re going to do it with the local, regional approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Northern Ireland announced that the region is set to begin a four-week “circuit breaker” lockdown from Friday.

Among other restrictions, the hospitality sector in the region will be required to close apart from deliveries and takeaways for food, with the existing closing time of 11 p.m. remaining.

Meanwhile, no overnight stays in a private residence will be allowed unless in a bubble; close contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians are not permitted to open, apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford on Wednesday announced that the country will ban travellers from rest of the UK’s coronavirus hotspots from Friday, adding that the evidence suggests Covid-19 is “moving from east to west across the UK and across Wales”.

The measure will apply to tier-two and tier-three areas of England, according to Drakeford.

On Wednesday, the UK reported 19,724 new Covid-19 cases, which took the overall infection tally in the country to 654,644, according to official figures released Wednesday.

The death toll increased to 43,155 after 137 new fatalities.

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