According to WHO, March 16, there were already more than 170 thousand coronavirus patients in the world, 6.6 thousand people died.
It is not surprising that even those governments, which did not sit idly by, began to introduce more and more restrictive measures in an effort to keep the epidemic to themselves or at least reduce the rate of infection.
The coronavirus is already affecting the situation on the external borders of the European Union – on March 16, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leien, stated that the EU imposes temporary restrictions on insignificant trips to the EU for 30 days.
In Austria, a ban on meetings of more than five people came into force (in most countries, mass events were also banned, but with the participation of more than 50 or – in some cases – 500 people). France began the week by closing schools, kindergartens and universities. The same measures were introduced by Thailand, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary and the Baltic States, many of which also declared a state of emergency in the country.
Not only educational institutions but also theatres and cinemas, as well as restaurants and bars continued to close under the banners of the fight against the deadly virus. For example, institutions in New York and Los Angeles were allowed to work exclusively on take-out and delivery of food.
The German government has decided to close all bars, nightclubs, museums and cinemas; meetings in churches, mosques and synagogues will also be restricted.
It has closed borders, cancelled flights and introduced strict entry requirements for foreigners from the virus-affected states and some African countries, including Kenya and Ghana. Namibia has closed schools for a month after only two confirmed cases. South Africa will block entry for nationals from high-risk countries and close local schools on 18 March.
The Coronavirus is also making changes in political life around the world. On March 13, U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in the country, the democratic primaries in Louisiana were moved from April to the end of June, and the main candidates from Democrats Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden canceled the election rallies and meetings with voters.
In Iran, where more than 7,000 cases of COVID-19 contamination have already been registered, the second round of parliamentary elections was postponed for six months. But France and the German state of Bavaria did not cancel local elections.
In Israel, against the backdrop of the pandemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that the leader of the opposition “Cahol Lavan” block, Beni Ganz, should form a government of national unity to fight an emergency threat.
Netanyahu insists that he will take the first two years as prime minister and the next two years as Ganz. But he refused.
Meanwhile, there are four countries in the Middle East that have so far been spared by the virus – all four of which are in civil conflict. These are Libya (both western and eastern), South Sudan, Yemen and Syria. The authorities of the latter, however, provided significant reassurance and postponed parliamentary elections to the end of May – the original date was 13 April.
– We’ve seen videos from shops in Italy and Germany; we don’t have that kind of excitement,” said Svetlana Rodigina, head of the Russian World Centre in Damascus. – The markets are open, but mosque attendance is limited, believers are encouraged to pray at home, at least at the last Friday prayer on speakerphone.
The situation in which millions of people of different ages and nationalities have been forced to minimize outings from home has led some establishments to make non-standard decisions.
The Vienna Opera, for example, began online broadcasts of its concerts. The Metropolitan opera also announced free access to productions from its archives. Some Western educational institutions have also opened online courses for students who have switched to home schooling, and at the same time – for everyone who wants to or bored.
Against the background of a shortage of disinfectants, the largest French conglomerate LVMH transferred from March 16 to the production of water-alcoholic gel for perfumes and cosmetics brands Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy. All batches of the gel were promised to be provided to French health authorities and hospitals free of charge.
And Italy, the country most affected by coronavirus after China, also sang.
– Yes, people sing on balconies. At 6:00 p.m., when the statistics for the day are published. But it’s not a fun party, it’s a form of mutual support and solidarity,” Maria, a resident of Rome told. – In the house opposite the boy hung an Italian flag from the window with a heart and the inscription andrà tutto bene (“Everything will be fine”). You can see that he painted and glued it himself for several hours.