Madrid Desk, Dec 7 (efe-epa).- Germany is preparing to toughen the current restrictions due to the pandemic ahead of Christmas, as officials in Sweden have been forced to rethink their hands-off approach amid rapidly rising infection rates.
Authorities in Greece, meanwhile, are also mulling extending the current lockdown until early January to include the whole of the holiday season.
Germany is preparing to toughen the current restrictions due to the pandemic ahead of Christmas, according to the Chancellery and the southern state of Bavaria.
The weekly incidence of contagion has continued to escalate, and although the rate of new infections seems to be stabilizing, the number of deaths is alarmingly high, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder told public television station ZDF.
“The current system is not sufficient,” he said, referring to the current restrictions, which have forced the closure of bars and restaurants, all cultural and nightlife activities, in addition to gyms and other sports activities in enclosed spaces.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the regional leaders agreed in their last meeting on Wednesday to extend these measures until January 10, although they announced some of the measures would be eased during the Christmas break to allow for limited family gatherings of up to 10 people.
In a closed-door meeting of the conservative parliamentary group, the German leader warned Monday that the current measures were insufficient, public television ARD reported.
Several states have ruled out relaxing the current measures during the holidays, while others, such as the city-state and capital, Berlin, point out that new restrictions can be adopted at regional level.
Bavaria declared on Sunday a disaster situation in order to better coordinate its own restrictions.
At the beginning of last week, a slowdown in new infections was perceived in Germany, but that situation was not consolidated, while the alarm about the high number of daily fatalities has grown.
Secondary schools and universities in Sweden were ordered to close from this Monday until January 6 as part of the latest government restrictions imposed in recent weeks due to the second wave of coronavirus, which has claimed more than 7,000 lives in the country.
The measure aims to stop the spread of the virus in an age group with high infection levels and reduce crowding, as the virological situation is beginning to approach that seen last spring, when Sweden was the most affected country in Scandinavia.
The latest report of the Public Health Agency (FHM) registered 35,000 new cases last week, an 11 percent increase, and 307 deaths, almost double the average of the three previous weeks, while admissions and patients into ICUs are also increasing.
The incidence in the previous 14 days is in Sweden of 698 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the seventh highest in Europe, and the infections already amount to 278,912.
“This decision is taken because it is necessary; despite all the initiatives, the contagion is at too high a level,” said the Swedish Minister of Education, Anna Ekström, who for the moment has ruled out a possible extension of the measure to primary schools.
The closure of colleges and universities were, with the prohibition of public meetings of more than 50 people and visits to nursing homes, the only restrictions imposed by Sweden until autumn, following a strategy set by the health authorities that steered clear of imposing restrictions and instead appealing to individual responsibility.
But Sweden did not avoid suffering the worst figures in Scandinavia and when the situation took a turn in November after a quiet summer, the government opted for a more interventionist approach, limiting the number of people in public meetings to eight and banning the sale of alcohol from 10pm.