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Italy, Portugal strengthen lockdowns anew

Posted June. 21, 2021 07:24,   

Updated June. 21, 2021 07:24


European countries that have eased Covid-19 restrictions are strengthening quarantine measures all over again, as cases have soared due to the spread of the Delta variant originating from India.

According to Reuters and other outlets, the Portuguese government placed curfew in the capital Lisbon through Sunday (local time) amid a spike in transmission of the Delta variant. As a result, Lisbon residents were not allowed to leave the capital without any urgent cause from Thursday to Sunday.

On highways around Lisbon, police were frequently seen stopping vehicles and asking motorists about the purpose of their trips, media outlets reported. In Portugal, the number of new confirmed cases fell to the 100 level early last month, but the number started to surge again in June to exceed 1,000 cases per day for four consecutive days on June 16-19. It is the first time in about three months since March 6 that the number of confirmed cases has topped 1,000. “More than 60 percent of the new confirmed patients are infected with the Delta variant,” the health authority said. “The surging trend of confirmed cases coincides with the admission of British tourists into the country from May 17.”

The Italian government started to reimpose compulsory five-day quarantine of incoming travelers from the U.K. anew from Saturday. Italy started allowing arrival without quarantine for tourists from the U.K. on May 15, but the country has beefed up quarantine measures anew as 16 percent of the confirmed cases have been caused by the Delta variant. The Financial Times reported that France, Germany, Spain, and Belgium have beefed up quarantine measures or decided to delay planned lifting of lockdowns. The U.K. had more than 10,000 confirmed cases reported for three consecutive days through Saturday, and experts say the country effectively entered the third wave of epidemics. Leaders of the European Union plan to discuss countermeasures for the spread of the Delta variant during their summit on Thursday and Friday.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com