Roundup: Europe’s major economies brace for partial lockdown as Covid surges
Madrid Desk, Oct 29 (efe-epa).- Europe’s two largest economies France and Germany are preparing for partial lockdowns, while the number of Covid-19 patients in Belgian hospitals has reached capacity.
A study in the United Kingdom suggests almost 100,000 people are infected with Covid-19 each day in England — only a fraction of which is detected and the Czech Republic’s independence day holiday was muted amid surging cases in central Europe.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that nationwide lockdown restrictions agreed with the country’s 16 regional state leaders a day earlier were “adequate, necessary and proportionate” during a speech in the Bundestag.
She described the pandemic as “a medical, economic, social, political and psychological test” of the country’s unity.
During her speech, she was consistently booed and heckled by deputies from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, with Wolfgang Schaeuble, the president of the Bundestag, having to interrupt proceedings to call them to order.
Merkel stressed that “it is good, it is important, it is indispensable” that the measures to combat the pandemic are “publicly discussed, criticized and questioned as to their proportionality,” adding that “critical debate does not weaken democracy but, on the contrary, strengthens it.”
Addressing the AfD MPs directly, Merkel said: “lies and disinformation, conspiracy and hate damage not only the democratic debate, but also the fight against the virus.”
The chancellor said she understood the “frustration” and “desperation” in particular of business owners who will have to close their businesses throughout November because of the new restrictions, but insisted they were necessary to regain control of the outbreak before the Christmas holiday period.
Germany registered 16,774 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, a new record.