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European Countries Reinstate Curfews To Try To Slow COVID-19 Surge

Oct 26, 2020
Originally published on October 26, 2020 7:25 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So we thought Europe had done so much better than us at containing the spread of the coronavirus, but now governments there are imposing curfews as they are hit by a massive second wave that doctors warn could be more deadly than the first. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Over the weekend, France extended a curfew to two-thirds of the country. Around 46 million people now have to be inside every night by 9 p.m. President Emmanuel Macron said the country had no choice, as cases topped a million. Spain, with about three-fourths the population, has also hit a million cases.

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PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

BEARDSLEY: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Spaniards, "We know what we have to do. The more we stay at home and the fewer contacts we have, the more we'll protect ourselves and our loved ones." From today, cinemas, swimming pools and gyms will close in Italy, and restaurants will have to shut their doors at 6 p.m. The Czech Republic and Belgium have been particularly hard hit. A 500-bed military hospital is being set up outside Prague to deal with the influx of patients.

In France, hospital capacity is quickly filling. Dr. Guillaume Thierry, intensive care doctor in the northern town of Saint Etienne, told French television there's been a sudden wave of extremely sick patients.

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GUILLAUME THIERRY: (Through interpreter) Our worry is to arrive at the point where we have far more patients and beds, and we already see this happening around the end of October or beginning of November.

BEARDSLEY: The French Sunday night news asked how the country had gone from relief at having things under control last spring to out of control in just a few short months.

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PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: It juxtaposed Macron telling the French last summer to go on vacation and enjoy being together again to the prime minister exclaiming just last week that the second wave is here and it is grave. One government official likened it to walking along a precipice - if you confine too long, the economy will collapse, he said, but if you reopen too quickly, the virus comes roaring back.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MILES DAVIS' "CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ (ADAGIO)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.