Many countries are reimposing lockdowns and new health checks at their borders, in a July 15, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Many countries are reimposing lockdowns and new health checks at their borders, in a July 15, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Virus resurgence forces countries to reimpose restrictions

13 million cases confirmed worldwide

PROMACHONAS, Greece — Countries around the world are reimposing lockdowns and implementing new health checks at their borders in an effort to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus before it spins even further out of control.

Starting Wednesday, all travellers arriving in Greece from a land border with Bulgaria were required to carry negative coronavirus test results issued in the previous 72 hours and translated into English. The new rules, which follow an increase in tourism-related COVID-19 cases, triggered an immediate drop in arrivals compared to recent days.

Residents of Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, were warned on Wednesday to comply with lockdown regulations or face tougher restrictions. Melbourne’s 5 million people and part of the city’s semi-rural surroundings are a week into a new, six-week lockdown to contain a new outbreak there.

“The time for warnings, the time for cutting people slack, is over,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said. “Where we are is in a very serious and deadly position.”

The developments come with more than 13 million cases of coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide, and with over 578,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The actual numbers are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing.

In Serbia, which has been hit hard by a spike in infections and anti-government protests, a government crisis team expanded a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people from Belgrade to encompass the entire country. Masks were also made mandatory in public spaces where there is no opportunity for 1.5 metres (around five feet) of distancing, such as in lines to enter shops and bus stations.

Renewed restrictions took effect in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with public gatherings limited to four people, restaurants restricted to takeout after 6 p.m., and a one-week closure for gyms, karaoke bars, and selected other businesses. Masks were mandated on public transit for the first time, with the non-compliant being fined.

After a surge in daily infections beginning last month, Israel moved last week to reimpose restrictions, closing events spaces, live show venues, bars and clubs. It has imposed lockdowns on areas with high infection rates, which in some cases sparked protests from residents.

Officials warn that if case numbers don’t come down in the coming days, Israel will have no choice but to lock the entire country down again, as it did in the spring.

“I don’t see what other tools we have aside from a lockdown,” Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told the Israeli news site Ynet. “Unless there is a miracle.”

South Africa, Africa’s most developed country, is already showing signs of being overwhelmed by the pandemic — an ominous outlook for the rest of the continent of 1.3 billion people.

A ban on alcohol sales and a night curfew have been reimposed this week to reduce the volume of trauma patients to hospitals that are struggling to cope with an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Alcohol-related emergencies at hospitals dropped by nearly 60% when South Africa prohibited the sales of liquor in April and May. When that restriction was lifted in June, hospitals saw an immediate return to previous levels of trauma cases, especially on weekends, according to statistics from Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize.

One result was more economic pain in a country which already has a high unemployment rate of 30%.

“This return to the booze ban is causing havoc to the restaurant business, and it’s causing people to lose jobs,” said Gerald Elliot, owner of a popular Johannesburg restaurant, Ba Pita, which he said closed as a result of the restrictions, with a loss of 28 jobs. “You can look down our street and see several restaurants that are shut. It looks like they are closed permanently.”

In Spain, authorities in the northeastern Catalonia region made fresh attempts to stem the spread of new coronavirus outbreaks as health experts warned that more and better contact tracing is needed.

Since midnight Tuesday, 160,000 residents in and around the city of Lleida were forbidden to leave their homes unless it’s properly justified. The area is closed off, with police checkpoints outside every municipality. Bars and restaurants are only open for takeout or delivery.

In Hospitalet de Llobregat, a densely populated town on the outskirts of the regional capital, Barcelona, dozens of people lined up Tuesday at a local health centre to be tested for the virus, as infections have shot up from a few dozen to more than 200 in just over three days.

Starting Wednesday, three neighbourhoods are seeing more restrictions, including limits to the number of customers in shops and restaurants, while authorities are strongly urging people not to socialize.

Authorities in the English town of Blackburn also imposed new restrictions on social mingling amid what they say is a “rising tide” of new coronavirus cases.

Director of Public Health Dominic Harrison said that if infection numbers didn’t fall by July 27, officials would begin to reimpose lockdown measures such as the closing of shops and other businesses.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Wednesday that the spread of the infections in the Japanese capital have escalated to levels tantamount to “issuing an alarm” and requested that residents and business owners step up their preventive measures.

However, even as new restrictions are imposed, steps were being taken to help restore a sense of normalcy.

On Tuesday night, Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko announced reopening the border with Russia and resuming the transport connection between the two countries “in the coming days.”

Travellers arriving in Russia starting Wednesday had to either provide coronavirus test results at the border or take a virus test within three days of arriving to the country. Those measures replace a mandatory two-week self-isolation for those arriving to Russia.

By The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read