The expansion of the new variant of coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom worries in the European Union, where several countries are preparing to face it by increasing restrictions or lengthening the confinements that they already have in place.
This is the case of Germany, whose Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, acknowledged on Wednesday that it will not be possible to ease the closure of public life in the country after January 31, when the current period of confinement ends.
In the country it is taken for granted that the tough measures to reduce contacts will last at least during February and March after the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, warned on Monday that between eight and ten very hard weeks are coming and that, if not manages to stop the British variant, the incidence can be multiplied by ten for Easter.
The ministers of Health of the European Union also expressed their “concern” yesterday at the increase in infections of the new variant of the virus, during the virtual meeting held by those responsible for Health of the twenty-seven.
“We are already seeing a significant impact in several European countries,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said after the meeting. “We cannot trust ourselves or let it get out of hand.”
The new variant adds pressure to the race against the clock of vaccination, which in many member states, including Spain, France and Germany, has started with some parsimony. The latter assures that in summer it will have vaccinated its entire population, as the Health Minister repeated yesterday in Parliament.
Meanwhile, the next few months are going to be difficult on the continent. Jean Castex, the French prime minister, acknowledged on Monday that a third confinement cannot be ruled out. This country is also considering advancing the curfew at six in the afternoon, according to various media.
The Portuguese Minister of Health, Marta Temido, who presided over the European meeting when this country held the rotating presidency of the EU, picked up the “concern” of the Member States “with the increase in the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in an epidemiological context that remains complex and difficult for all our countries ”and called for maintaining“ health measures ”and European coordination.
In the Portuguese country, an extension of the state of emergency was approved this Wednesday in order to allow the tightening of restrictions. Portugal, swept away by the third wave, announced yesterday 10,556 infections and 156 deaths from covid 19, remaining at record figures since the start of the pandemic.
Italy also plans to extend its state of emergency until the end of April, according to Health Minister Roberto Speranza. On Tuesday it was the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, who announced that his country is also extending its lockdown, which includes the closure of schools and non-essential shops, for at least three more weeks.
In addition to trying to avoid contagion among their citizens, the member states are considering tightening or establishing entry restrictions from other countries. Denmark has just imposed a negative test on all passengers arriving on international flights.
Also Germany, which yesterday registered 19,600 new cases and 1,060 more deaths, is going to change its regulations, which until now only consisted of requiring a 10-day quarantine for newcomers to the country.
The Government has approved a new law that will require a negative test to those who come from areas with a high incidence or from areas with a high prevalence of highly contagious variants. Passengers must show the result of the test before boarding.