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Trump or Biden: What the U.S. election means for Europe



On one level, this reflects a genuine yearning for a Biden presidency after four years of Trumpian volatility. A liberal White House in 2021 would be expected to revitalize the transatlantic alliance, return the United States to the Paris climate accord, scrap most of the tariffs Trump slapped on U.S. allies and, at the very least, avoid coddling factions and forces that seek to undermine European unity. For officials in Brussels, it would mark something of a restoration.

But on a deeper level, Europe’s view of America is also changing. “European attitudes to Americans are shifting from envy to compassion,” wrote Simon Kuper of the Financial Times. He added that “there’s more chance of becoming a billionaire, if that’s your thing, in Scandinavia than in the U.S.,” pointing to widening inequity in the United States and the withering of romantic notions of the “American Dream.”

Trump and Europe

The current occupant of the White House entered office stoking grievance against both of the continent’s defining institutions, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Trump believes the former was organized as a bloc to “take advantage” of the United States and even invoked a number of European countries as national security threats to justify protectionist tariffs on E.U. goods. It’s a disposition that runs counter to the many years successive Democratic and Republican administrations spent encouraging deeper European integration.

Trump sees NATO almost as a kind of protection racket for Europe, which shelters under the U.S. security umbrella on the American dime. He hectored European countries to spend more on defense and questioned the usefulness of belonging to the military alliance at all. (Never mind that many European governments had already begun raising their military spending during the Obama administration.) Trump’s curious personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as his embrace of far-right, illiberal nationalist and Euroskeptic figures on the margins of Europe’s politics only added to the impression of a U.S. leader hostile to the liberal European project.

Trump has been at odds with close European allies in international forums like the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the United Nations, wrecking key agreements including the Iran nuclear deal. Although he shied away from endorsing any particular U.S. candidate when asked about the November election, French President Emmanuel Macron made clear he hoped for a future where the United States changed course.

“What is very important in the international context is that the U.S. can play their role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, of a fully engaged member in multilateral issues,” Macron told reporters in August. “We need the United Nations’ engagement in resolving conflicts and to have a U.S. that is a partner of collective security of a sovereign Europe.”

If Trump gets reelected, “he will feel totally unleashed and he will have no limitation,” Gérard Araud, who until last year was France’s ambassador in Washington, told Today’s WorldView. That may have significant consequences for Europe, including, Araud suggested, the possibility of the United States withdrawing from NATO altogether.

Europe’s concerns are hardly uniform, though, and Araud and other experts acknowledge that the Trump era has only further exposed the continent’s own divisions. Some countries in the east have warmed to Trump’s approach, while France and Germany remain at odds on the role of Europe on the world stage and whether the E.U. can or should emerge as a third pole of global politics alongside the United States and China.

“In my conversations with French diplomats, they often portray Trump as the final nail in the coffin of the transatlantic alliance — given that he has questioned American security guarantees for Europe and supposedly driven NATO to ‘brain death,’ ” wrote Jana Puglierin of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Security experts from Poland or the Baltic states, however, emphasise how much more secure they feel since his election, and how credibly the Americans reassure their allies and partners on NATO’s eastern flank. … Germans, for their part, see the threat that Trump presents to the alliance, but have been trying to manage it.”

Biden and Europe

In Biden, many Europeans see the return of a more traditional internationalist who appreciates the E.U.’s historic relationship with the United States and its liberal values. Closer and friendlier cooperation will come naturally on a host of fronts, including trade and action on climate change.

“The E.U. is the largest market in the world. We need to improve our economic relations,” said senior Biden adviser Tony Blinken, in recent remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “And we need to bring to an end an artificial trade war that the Trump administration has started … that has been poisoning economic relations, costing jobs, increasing costs for consumers.”

“If Biden is elected,” said Araud, he would sound “the sentimental platitudes toward Europeans that Europeans love. He will pat their shoulders. It will be orgasmic in Brussels.”

But, the former French ambassador warned, “it won’t be business as usual.” That’s in part because the security guarantees of the 20th century Pax Americana no longer hold, and the Obama administration, where Biden served, perhaps showed as much ambivalence about projecting U.S. power abroad as Trump has subsequently.

As crises flare on the E.U.’s borders and the United States largely looks away, policymakers in Paris, Berlin and Brussels increasingly are coming to terms with having to confront them on their own. “We are living in a world of carnivores and the Europeans are the last herbivores,” said Araud. “The Europeans have to change their diet and that for them is very difficult to face.”

“All Western democracies have been watching very closely what happens inside this one,” said Cathryn Cluver Ashbrook, executive director of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School, in a recent webinar on the impact of the U.S. election across the Atlantic. She said that Europeans are “wary” of the deeper trends fueling U.S. politics and what that may mean for their own societies.

“Who is the passing phenomenon here?” said Ashbrook. “Is it Joe Biden or Trump?”



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‘I’m worried about a second wave’: Matt Hancock warns wave of infections is ‘rolling across Europe’ 


Matt Hancock today warned of a second coronavirus wave ‘starting to roll across Europe’ towards Britain and hinted that more holiday destinations on the continent could soon face UK quarantine restrictions.

The Health Secretary also confirmed the Government is ‘looking at’ plans to tell people who test positive for coronavirus to stay at home for ten days – up from the current seven-day self-isolation period.

Mr Hancock also hinted that more European countries could be added to the UK’s quarantine list to stop Covid-19 getting a stranglehold in Britain again.

He told Sky News: ‘I am worried about a second wave. You can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe. We have to do everything we can to prevent it reaching these shores. It’s not just Spain, there are other countries too where the number of cases is rising, and we are absolutely determined to do all we can to keep this country safe.’ 

He also said that increasing the isolation period for coronavirus symptoms from seven to 10 days in line with World Health Organisation guidance ‘something that we’re looking at’.

The quarantine period for people returning to the UK from foreign countries such as Spain would be pared back to 10 days from 14 days under the same plans.

His warning came after Boris Johnson admitted he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the possibility of a second spike and claims that the UK could be a fortnight behind Europe, where cases are rising again.

The rolling average of daily cases has been rising since earlier this month, while there have been fresh restrictions in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and localised outbreaks in Stone, Staffordshire, and Wrexham, north Wales. 

Leicester, the first place in the UK to have a mini-lockdown imposed, will have its shutdown reviewed today – two days earlier than expected. 

In other coronavirus developments: 

  • Oldham has overtaken Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, official figures revealed. A decision on whether to extent Leicester’s local lockdown will be made today;
  • Ministers signed a multi-million pound deal with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60million doses of another potential Covid-19 vaccine;
  • Scientists have been given £4.3 million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19;
  • Ten people have caught the coronavirus linked to a Staffordshire pub where 200 drinkers were crammed into beer garden ‘like sardines’. 
Patients who are confirmed to have Covid could be told to stay at home for 14 days under a change to the rules. Pictured: People queue up at a walk-in Covid-19 testing centre at Crown Street car park in Stone, Staffordshire after nearby Crown and Anchor pub saw outbreak of the disease

Patients who are confirmed to have Covid could be told to stay at home for 14 days under a change to the rules. Pictured: People queue up at a walk-in Covid-19 testing centre at Crown Street car park in Stone, Staffordshire after nearby Crown and Anchor pub saw outbreak of the disease

Boris Johnson, pictured on a visit to Nottingham, expressed fears over a second Covid-19 onslaught within weeks

Boris Johnson, pictured on a visit to Nottingham, expressed fears over a second Covid-19 onslaught within weeks

Isolation rules have previously caused confusion as those confirmed to have the virus via a test have been told to isolate for seven days, whereas their ‘close contacts’ faced 14 days. The disparity was due to the time taken to develop symptoms of the virus.

The Government has at times been accused of ‘mixed messaging’ over the rules.

Patients who are confirmed to have Covid or who have a cough, fever or loss of sense of smell or taste are currently told to stay at home for seven days.

The increase brings the self-isolation period closer to the 14 days for those who are a ‘close contact’ of a confirmed case or for people arriving back from a country under quarantine rules.

Belgium and Luxembourg could be removed from the safe travel list as early as tomorrow and Croatia could also be at risk. Luxembourg has the highest incidence of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Europe

Belgium and Luxembourg could be removed from the safe travel list as early as tomorrow and Croatia could also be at risk. Luxembourg has the highest incidence of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Europe

The Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance warned No10 on Monday that Britain could be just two or three weeks behind Spain’s second wave trajectory, according to The Times. 

And adopting a 10-day self-isolation period would be following World Health Organisation guidelines and bringing Britain into line with many countries around the world.

Fears of a resurgence of infections come as scientists at The University of Cambridge found that the reproduction rate of the virus is almost at one in large parts of the UK – nearing the crucial threshold above which growth is exponential. 

The experts at the Cambridge MRC Biostatistics Unit linked the rise to an easing of lockdown, reported the Daily Telegraph. 

Despite the warnings, Boris Johnson was urged not to panic over fears of a summer surge. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said ministers should continue efforts to get the economy moving by urging more workers to return to the office. He said: ‘The message from the Government is still really fearful, it needs to be much more nuanced.

‘They must say, ‘Look, this is a disease that by-and-large affects those with co-morbidities. Protect the vulnerable but the rest of you should be getting back to work’.’ Sir Iain added: ‘We seem to have lost the ability to balance risk.’

Meanwhile, health leaders said there were ‘very high’ levels of concern about a fresh spike. Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that non-Covid productivity in NHS trusts was currently at about 60 per cent.

He called for an ‘Amazon-style’ way for health and care workers to order personal protective equipment where it arrives the next day. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the council of the British Medical Association, said another spike should not be seen as an ‘inevitability’ and it was time to be ‘more robust’ about mitigating the threat.

He also called for more concise public messaging over measures people can take to stop the spread of the virus.

‘If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing we’re told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus,’ he said.

‘Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don’t really understand this because it’s not clear and they’re not social distancing.’

Britain’s coronavirus cases rise 14% in a week as experts urge ministers not to panic and say the UK needs to ‘learn to live’ with the disease – while officials announce 83 more Covid-19 deaths 

Covid-19 cases in Britain have risen again with the average number of infections jumping by 14 per cent in a week as scientists urged ministers not to panic and said the UK needs to ‘learn to live’ with the disease.  

Department of Health chiefs announced another 763 people tested positive for the virus, taking the rolling seven-day average to 726. In comparison, the rate was 697 yesterday, 638 last Wednesday and has been on the up for a fortnight amid fears of a resurgence. 

And the rate is 33 per cent higher than the four-month low of 546 recorded three weeks ago on July 8, just days after top experts warned of an inevitable spike prompted by the relaxation of strict lockdown rules. 

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, argued that the UK has never been free from infection and warned ‘the number of cases measured today are not comparable to March’.

Business leaders reacted warily to the threat of tighter restrictions being introduced over the rise in cases, with top firms saying it is ‘vital’ crippled economies get the chance to recover this summer.

The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday

The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday 

OLDHAM OVERTAKES LEICESTER WITH THE SECOND HIGHEST COVID-19 INFECTION RATE 

Oldham has overtaken Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, official figures revealed.

NHS statistics showed Oldham recorded 54.3 coronavirus cases for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26.

The weekly infection rate for the Greater Manchester town has risen by 191 per cent. In comparison, Leicester’s outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2.

Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. 

Local officials have pleaded with locals to abide by tough restrictions implemented yesterday, in a desperate bit to prevent a full-blown lockdown.

Council bosses have now urged all of the borough’s 235,000 residents to not let any visitors into their home for at least two weeks.

It puts Oldham at odds with the rest of England, after lockdown rules were relaxed earlier this month to let people to stay overnight with loved ones.

Everyone living in the Greater Manchester borough has also been asked to keep two metres apart from friends and family when seeing them outside.

Current government advice for the rest of the nation recommends a one metre-plus rule — but people should keep two metres apart where possible. 

Katrina Stephens, the director of public health in Oldham, said the spike was not due to more testing but a ‘genuine increase’ in transmission, Manchester Evening News reported.

The central and western districts have mostly been affected, and there are ‘increasingly’ cases in the younger population, particularly among 20 to 40-year-olds, Ms Stephens said at a media briefing yesterday.

A significant proportion of recent cases involve multiple individuals testing positive within a household.

Councillor Arooj Shah confirmed they had seen a rise in cases among Oldham’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, which account for up to two thirds of overall new cases, New Post Leader reported.

Around 20 per cent of Oldham’s population are from Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage, compared to the 2.8 per cent average in England and Wales.

 Officials noted the new guidelines would be ‘particularly tough’ for the Muslim community who were preparing to celebrate Eid on Friday.

Meanwhile, a further 83 more coronavirus deaths were recorded in Britain — taking the official number of victims to 45,961. But no fatalities were posted in Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

Around 66 people are succumbing to the illness each day, on average. But the fatality curve is no longer flattening as quickly as it was, with the rate having barely changed in the past 10 days. It can take patients several weeks to die, meaning any spike in deaths won’t be immediately apparent in government figures. 

Government statistics show the official size of the UK’s outbreak now stands at 300,692. 

But the actual size of the outbreak, which began to spiral out of control in March, is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data. 

The deaths reported by the Department of Health cover those in all settings, including hospitals and care homes. 

The data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.

And the figure does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland as well as Northern Ireland are always out of sync.

And the count announced by NHS England every afternoon — which only takes into account deaths in hospitals — does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.

For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities ‘as soon as they are available’. 

NHS England posted 14 deaths in hospitals across the country. These include victims who were both confirmed and suspected to have the virus, while the Department of Health only records lab-confirmed Covid-19 deaths.

Wales reported five deaths in all settings after two days of zero fatalities. The country has reported zero deaths on 13 days this month as the virus slowly fizzles out. 

Department of Health figures showed almost 100,000 tests were either carried out or posted yesterday. The number includes antibody tests for frontline NHS and care workers. 

The head of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, warned that the UK was not doing enough to prevent a second wave of the epidemic.

He demanded ministers lay out a coherent strategy for how they plan to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence from battering the UK in the winter, when other illnesses are rife and the NHS is vulnerable to being overwhelmed.

Dr Nagpaul told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus: ‘At the moment we’re not doing everything we should in trying to contain the virus. 

‘If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing: we’re told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus.

‘Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don’t really understand this because it’s not clear and they’re not social distancing.’

Dr Nagpaul slammed ministers for not enforcing mask-wearing, saying it risked sending the message they were optional.

He added: ‘If you want to suppress a virus you don’t just make an announcement and then leave people with free will whether to wear them… you then follow that up with a very systematic approach to make sure that happens.

‘What I mean by suppressing is you take an attitude that says: we want to do absolutely everything to make sure the infection doesn’t spread. That needs a much more robust approach.’

Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26. In comparison, Leicester's outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2. Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week

Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26. In comparison, Leicester’s outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2. Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week

£4MILLION FUNDING TO INVESTIGATE BAME AND COVID-19 LINK 

Scientists have been given £4.3million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19.

UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research have funded six new research projects which will examine the link between coronavirus and ethnicity.

Emerging evidence suggests BAME (black and minority ethnic) people are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those who are white, after taking into account the age of the individuals and other sociodemographic factors.

The six projects are:

  • One will explore the impact of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, specifically on migrant and refugee groups.
  • Another will look for ways to create targeted, digital health messages with help from key voices within BAME communities.
  • The £2.1 million UK-Reach project, which received the largest proportion of the fund, will calculate the risk of contracting and dying from Covid-19 for ethnic minority healthcare workers. 
  • One of the research projects will seek to determine the risk of infection and death from Covid-19 in individual ethnicity groups, combining more than 40million patient GP records in England to create one of the largest Covid-19 cohorts in the UK.
  • Another project will use data from the UK Biobank, which contains biomedical information of 500,000 individuals, to examine whether the increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 in minority ethnic groups can be explained by differences in health status, lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, and environmental factors such as social inequality.
  • The final research project aims to help enable the designers of clinical trials to consider the factors that may reduce the inclusion of BAME participants, such as culture, or trial information and procedures. 

He warned: ‘The point is that I’m not sure that sense of clear, single-minded determination to do everything we can is being done and that’s what I mean by suppressing.

‘To really take the attitude that yes, we can resume normal living – you can go out, you can do things, but make sure that we have very clear messages about what is expected of both the public and workers to stop the spread.

‘There are measures that can be taken and at the moment I think I see too many examples of potential spread, just walking out into the High Street and peering through shop windows. 

‘If a hair dresser wears a visor without a mask, that’s not going to suppress the virus. Has that message gone to all employers as to what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus?

‘If you look at the figures at the moment, the last ONS figures from last Friday, the weekly figures, the infection rate has increased.

‘We’re now seeing about 2,700 new cases a day compared to 2,500 the week before. And so I think now is the time we must be much more robust and rigorous about how we mitigate the spread.’

It comes after Boris Johnson warned there are ‘signs of a second wave’ of Covid-19 in Europe as the Prime Minister defended the UK’s decision to reimpose quarantine rules on Spanish travel.   

Leading experts insisted that ministers don’t need to panic yet about rising coronavirus cases in Britain, after it was revealed that Boris Johnson fears a second wave could start within a fortnight.

A senior government source told the Mail the Prime Minister was ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’ both at home and across Europe. A spike in infections have been recorded in Spain, triggering a last-minute decision to place the holiday hotspot on the UK’s travel quarantine list, Germany and France.

A Downing Street source said: ‘The PM is extremely concerned by what he’s seeing abroad and fears we could be seeing the same thing here in a fortnight.

‘People have got to realise we are still in the middle of a pandemic. He wants to go further on opening things up and getting people back to work, but he knows it’ll be his head on the block if things go wrong.’

But Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, moved to reassure the nation and said: ‘Give us a couple of weeks before we start panicking.’ 

He told MailOnline cases in the UK are drifting up but not escalating quickly and revealed it was possible ‘we could last out August’ without the need to adopt any blanket measures to prevent another crisis.

One scientist warned the spike ‘was to be expected’ because of lockdown being eased earlier this month, when millions of Britons flocked to pubs to celebrate ‘Super Saturday’ on July 4. 

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: ‘The UK has never been free from infection, we have had 100’s of cases per day every day since March. However, the number of cases measured are not comparable to March.

‘The increase in cases was to be expected, as the lockdown eases, the opportunity for the virus to spread will increase.

‘The government intervention that will make the most difference in keeping the lid on this flare up, is the isolation of positive cases.

British Medical Association chief says the Government is NOT doing enough to stop a second wave and is sending out ‘mixed messages’ about masks and social distancing 

The UK Government is not doing enough to stop a second wave of coronavirus, the head of the British Medical Association warned amid fears the virus is making a comeback.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul told MPs that mixed messaging around key preventative measures including mask-wearing and social distancing was behind infections spiking by nearly 30 per cent last week.

He demanded ministers lay out a coherent strategy for how they plan to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence from battering the UK in the winter, when other illnesses are rife and the NHS is vulnerable to being overwhelmed.

Dr Nagpaul told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus: ‘At the moment we’re not doing everything we should in trying to contain the virus. 

‘If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing: we’re told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus.

‘Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don’t really understand this because it’s not clear and they’re not social distancing.’

Dr Nagpaul slammed ministers for not enforcing mask-wearing, saying it risked sending the message they were optional.

He added: ‘If you want to suppress a virus you don’t just make an announcement and then leave people with free will whether to wear them… you then follow that up with a very systematic approach to make sure that happens.

‘What I mean by suppressing is you take an attitude that says: we want to do absolutely everything to make sure the infection doesn’t spread. That needs a much more robust approach.’

He warned: ‘The point is that I’m not sure that sense of clear, single-minded determination to do everything we can is being done and that’s what I mean by suppressing. 

‘To really take the attitude that yes, we can resume normal living – you can go out, you can do things, but make sure that we have very clear messages about what is expected of both the public and workers to stop the spread.

‘There are measures that can be taken and at the moment I think I see too many examples of potential spread, just walking out into the High Street and peering through shop windows. 

‘If a hair dresser wears a visor without a mask, that’s not going to suppress the virus. Has that message gone to all employers as to what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus?

‘If you look at the figures at the moment, the last ONS figures from last Friday, the weekly figures, the infection rate has increased.

‘We’re now seeing about 2,700 new cases a day compared to 2,500 the week before. And so I think now is the time we must be much more robust and rigorous about how we mitigate the spread.’

‘I remain concerned that not enough effort has been put into isolation measures. Its self-defeating to vilify young people who are infectious but otherwise well for not wanting to keep making disproportionately heavy financial and life sacrifices.’

He added: ‘What I fear is that if we fail to check this flare up, we will head into the winter months with a high level of circulating virus.

‘With the normal winter illnesses and greater indoor living, we could then see a return to exponential growth in Covid-19 cases that overwhelms the NHS and requires complete lockdown. Many scientists have consistently emphasised that we have only short time to get our systems ready to prevent this.’ 

Ministers have been warning of a potential second wave of the pandemic this winter but now fear it could come sooner. On a visit to Nottingham yesterday, Mr Johnson — who earlier this month played down the prospect of another national lockdown — said Britons must not drop their guard.

He added: ‘The most important thing is for everybody in all communities to heed the advice, to follow the advice, not to be spreading it accidentally and get it right down and we’ll be able to ease the restrictions across the country.

‘But clearly we now face, I’m afraid, the threat of a second wave in other parts of Europe and we just have to be vigilant.’ 

But a video of a Staffordshire pub showing some 200 people crammed into a beer garden ‘like sardines’ in a clear breach of coronavirus rules suggests some Britons have, indeed, dropped their guard. 

The market town is  fighting a coronavirus outbreak linked to the local pub where at least ten people were infected.

Punters and staff who were at the Crown and Anchor in Stone between July 16 and 18 are now being told to urgently get swabs done, as well as anyone who has been in close contact with visitors to the pub.

A new testing centre has been set up 350 yards away at a car park, and people who were out in Stone on one of those nights who have since displayed symptoms despite not going to the pub should also now get a test.

Local resident Ayrron Robinson, who has lived opposite the pub in Stone for four years, filmed the clip from his window after becoming concerned about an apparent lack of social distancing.

He said: ‘If we do have to go into local lockdown then the pub has a lot to answer for.’  

Several places in England are under the careful watch of health officials who are trying to squash cases after a recent spike, including Leicester, Oadby and Wigston, Blackburn and Darwen, and Luton. 

Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26.

The weekly infection rate for the Greater Manchester town has risen by 191 per cent. In comparison, Leicester’s outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2.

Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. 

Local officials have pleaded with locals to abide by tough restrictions implemented yesterday, in a desperate bid to prevent a full-blown lockdown like that seen in Leicester currently. 

Two thirds of new Covid-19 cases in Oldham are among Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the council said, and a significant proportion of recent cases involve multiple individuals testing positive within a household. 

It comes as scientists are given £4.3million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19.

UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research have funded six new research projects which will examine the link between coronavirus and ethnicity.

Emerging evidence suggests BAME (black and minority ethnic) people are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those who are white, after taking into account the age of the individuals and other sociodemographic factors. 

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and head of the National Institute for Health Research, said: ‘With evidence showing that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are more severely affected by Covid-19, it is critical that we understand what factors are driving this risk to address them effectively.

‘The diverse range of projects funded will help examine this association in detail, so that new treatments and approaches to care can be developed to target the ethnicities most at risk.

‘This research will have embedded patient and public involvement with black, Asian and minority ethnic groups at all stages of the research.’

In other developments in the battle against Covid-19, a multi-million pound deal has been struck in the UK for 60million doses of another potential Covid-19 vaccine – the fourth so far.

Number 10’s agreement with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur mean the UK has access to a total of 250million doses — enough to allow everyone in Britain to have four each, if they work.

Scientists have yet to trial GSK/Sanofi’s vaccine on humans and studies to prove it works won’t begin until September. Other contenders purchased by Number 10 have already shown signs of promise in tests.

The Government’s deal with GSK/Sanofi allegedly costs £500million, The Sunday Times reported earlier this month, which will be paid in stages as the vaccine progresses through clinical trials.

It is not expected to reach phase 3 trials — the last phase of testing before it can be approved for use on humans — until December. 

Europe had 50% ‘excess mortality’ at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak – with Spain seeing a 155% increase compared to Germany’s 11%

Europe experienced a 50 per cent rise in excess mortality at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France’s Insee statistics agency.

The figures show that over the course of one week, between March 30 and April 6, European countries saw more than 33,742 excess deaths.

Excess mortality is the number of deaths in a given period over and above what would normally be expected and is a measure widely used to estimate how many people died due to Covid-19. 

Spain experienced the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths.

It was followed by Italy, Belgium and France during this period which was ‘the peak of excess mortality… linked to the COVID-19 epidemic’ in Europe, according to Insee. 

Europe experienced a 50 per cent rise in excess mortality at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France's Insee statistics agency. Spain experienced the highest excess mortality, between March 30 and April 6, with 155 per cent

Europe experienced a 50 per cent rise in excess mortality at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France’s Insee statistics agency. Spain experienced the highest excess mortality, between March 30 and April 6, with 155 per cent

Germany, western Europe’s most populated country, had a comparably much lower excess mortality rate across the same period.  

The study did not mention data from Britain, which has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll, as it is no longer a member of the European Union.

But previous figures from the Office for National Statistics placed England and Wales among the worst effected countries across a similar period.

In previous years the number of deaths in Europe tend to decline from March onwards after the annual flu season.

But the Insee agency said that in 2020 the figure rose sharply based on data collected by EU agency Eurostat from 21 national jurisdictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

Italy had  awhere 7,669 excess deaths were recorded. where 7,669 excess deaths were recorded.

Italy had a 67 per cent increase in excess mortality rate with the country recording 7,669 excess deaths over the set week. Pictured: Medical staff treating coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy

Compared to data for the years 2016 to 2019, Spain had the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths.

This was followed by 91 per cent in Belgium with 1,908 excess deaths and 67 per cent in Italy where 7,669 excess deaths were recorded. 

France was also amongst the worst hit with a 60 per cent increase in the excess mortality rate after reporting 7,327 additional deaths, said the Insee.

Germany had a comparably much lower excess mortality rate of just 11 per cent with 2,076 excess deaths across the same period.  

The study did not mention data from Britain but figures previously released by the ONS showed that in England and Wales there were 6,082 excess deaths across a similar time period – 59 per cent above average. 

Spain had the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths. Pictured: Temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients located at the Ifema convention and exhibition centre in Madrid, Spain, following the peak of the pandemic

Spain had the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths. Pictured: Temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients located at the Ifema convention and exhibition centre in Madrid, Spain, following the peak of the pandemic

The overall excess mortality rate for Europe was 48 per cent following 33,742 excess deaths.

The upward trend in excess mortality rates decreased progressively across Europe and all but disappeared by the beginning of May.

Over a longer period, from March 2 to April 26, the Insee said more than 80 per cent of the excess mortality jointly registered in 21 European countries was from Spain, Italy, Belgium and France. 

As a whole, more men than women died, the data showed, and these were mostly people aged 70 and older. 

It noted a series of marked differences in excess mortality between countries and even between regions within countries.

These were likely due to differences in population age and density, access to healthcare, the timing and method of lifting confinement measures, and the ability to work from home, according to the Insee, though it could not say which factors played the biggest role.

Lockdown free Sweden seeing ‘very positive’ downward trend in cases

Sweden is seeing a ‘very positive’ downward trend in coronavirus cases after its much-debated decision not to go into lockdown, its top epidemiologist says.

Anders Tegnell said the number of seriously sick patients was ‘close to zero’ with the curve of new virus cases also bending downwards.

Tegnell is also continuing to play down the effectiveness of face masks – saying there is ‘no point’ wearing them on public transport. 

Sweden recorded only 1,716 new cases last week, down from 9,094 just a month earlier, and deaths have also been on the decline.    

‘The curves go down, and the curves over the seriously ill begin to be very close to zero. As a whole, it is very positive,’ Tegnell said.  

 

Measured by cases per million people, Sweden now has a similar infection rate to the UK and a much better one than the US

Measured by cases per million people, Sweden now has a similar infection rate to the UK and a much better one than the US

Sweden became a closely-watched outlier in the spring after refusing to go into lockdown, with shops and restaurants staying open throughout the crisis. 

Large gatherings were banned along with visits to nursing homes, but primary schools stayed open even in hard-hit Stockholm. 

Citizens have largely complied with social distancing recommendations and the government says that its softer measures will be easier to maintain long-term. 

On Monday, Sweden announced just 398 new cases over the weekend, down from 767 the week before and 2,530 only a month ago. 

Measured by cases per million people, Sweden now has a similar infection rate to the UK and a much better one than the US.  

Only a handful of people are now being admitted to intensive care per week, down from as many as 45 per day at the height of the crisis. 

Sweden's top epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (pictured on Tuesday) said the number of seriously sick patients was 'close to zero' with the curve of new virus cases also bending down

Sweden’s top epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (pictured on Tuesday) said the number of seriously sick patients was ‘close to zero’ with the curve of new virus cases also bending down

Deaths have also fallen, with 56 fatalities announced in the last week compared to 101 in the previous seven days.  

However, Sweden’s death toll of 5,702 is well above that in Denmark, Norway and Finland, which have each seen fewer than 1,000 deaths. 

In addition, Sweden has found itself marginalised as European countries re-open their borders for summer holidays. 

The UK Foreign Office continues to advise against non-essential travel to Sweden, but has lifted that warning for the other Scandinavian countries.   

The mixed results have prompted Swedish officials to promise an investigation into the country’s coronavirus response. 

The commission has a broad mandate to look at how the virus arrived in Sweden, how it spread, the government’s response, and the effect on equality.  

The commission will report on elderly care at the end of November, although its final conclusions are not due until 2022, ahead of a national election. 



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Fomenko’s Case: Europe should reconsider its policy on fake news distributors


The European Union must fight harder against the spread of fake news, which has become widespread in the digital age. Still, there are essentially no effective mechanisms in place for such a battle, said Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, a member of the European Parliament from Germany and Vice-Chairman of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, in a comment to journalists.

 

“The main instrument in the fight against misinformation is a highly educated society that can reveal and recognize fake news, what type of information it conveys, and how to fact-check it,” Cramon-Taubadel stated.

 

The MEP further revealed that it is still very difficult to defend legally against fakes and smear campaigns, especially when it comes to slander.

 

“The law is tied to the physical world, not the virtual one. Our prosecutors cannot keep track of all the cases which may be relevant and which could be brought before a criminal court – and that is a problem. Therefore, we need a better justice system, more prosecutors specializing in the digital environment, and an effective way to address such issues. We have to come up with a systematic approach to working with large digital companies and all social media,” said Cramon-Taubadel.

 

The European Union remains helpless in the face of smear campaigns using fake information. Meanwhile, the people behind such campaigns are becoming more creative and audacious – particularly those involved in spreading Russian propaganda.

 

“Concerning the systematic misinformation that often comes from Russia and its propaganda institutions, its main goal is destabilization. They cleverly designed these deceptive campaigns in various countries to make them appear not alike. In Ukraine, the used narratives entirely differ from those that appear in Germany, which, in turn, are completely unlike the ones in the Czech Republic, and so on. That is, in the EU, there are different forms of deceptive campaigns that are usually run by the Russian Federation,” explained Viola von Cramon-Taubadel.

 

Fake news distributors feel confident enough to target the main institutions of free Europe – the European Commission and the European Parliament. A striking example is a hoax created by Dmytro Fomenko, a businessman from Dnipro (Ukraine). He announced a roundtable to take place in the European Parliament on June 16, 2020. The event was supposed to be organized by the European People’s Party, and among the participants were well-known European parliamentarians – Viola von Cramon-Taubadel among them. Soon, it became clear that neither the European People’s Party nor the deputies knew anything about this roundtable. Ultimately, the event did not happen at all. As journalists later found out, it was a complete fake.

 

“In general, such events – with the co-organization of deputies – can come about. Having said that, it is quite appalling to steal and illegally use the logo of a party or political group and create a fake event,” stated Viola von Cramon-Taubadel.

 

Even before the roundtable supposedly took place, the MEP denied her participation in it, calling the event “fake news.” Fomenko later accused Cramon-Taubadel of working for the Kremlin and receiving bribes for denying her participation in the event.

 

“This person is not even worth mentioning. As I have said, Ukraine suffers from many significant problems: it is on the verge of an economic crisis; the country cannot properly deal with the pandemic as well. We have to talk about serious topics concerning Ukraine, which are plenty; not about this case of Fomenko, which I’m not going to discuss any further,” said Cramon-Taubadel.

 

Meanwhile, Fomenko’s case has proved once again that the EU needs to review its policy on organizers and distributors of fake news. In the digital age, information is capable of instant dissemination. And in some cases, it can lead to serious political, social or economic destabilization.

 

“I know that many member states are working on a more structured legislation. We are working on a digital database to combat hate speech, fake news and so on. But as far as I know, it is not over yet, and we will discuss it after the summer recess,” the MEP summed up.

 

 



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Democracy, budget, solidarity, climate : what Europe post-Covid19 ?


In the long run, Europe has greatly contributed to the process of globalization that has been underway since the time of the great explorations. In a short time, Europe has been hit very hard by the pandemic and a historic recession is on the way.

Nothing prevents from reviving the plans of the European Community for Health  proposed in 1952. In economics, on the other hand, it is pointless to expect a new Marshall plan from the United States of America. 

This continent is not starting from scratch, Europe’s architects built a shared European house where peace, freedom, democracy, prosperity, the rule of law and a certain solidarity prevail. Determined, drawing their convictions from a shared trauma, that of the horrors of war, they were resistors and death camp survivors  and their ideals and values formed the backbone of the European Union. “Nothing is possible without men, nothing lasts without institutions” explained Jean Monnet who had imagined this organisation: a European Commission seeks the common European general interest and makes its proposals to the Ministers of States (Council) and citizens’ representatives (European Parliament) under the supervision of a Court of Justice. This revolutionary architecture – of shared sovereignty – has allowed to peacefully unite 27 countries, to conduct common policies (agriculture, Erasmus, trade, common currency, European GPS Galileo, research …) and to form regulations that inspire the whole world (data protection, energy efficiency, etc.).

Today the European Union needs progress to ensure autonomy and power to Europe. The time has come for new generations to live up to the European heritage. Taxation, budget, external or social action, the EU must decide more by (qualified) majority as unanimity is not democratic and does paralyze it. To move forward, energize industry and materialize a solidarity felt by everyone, its common economic capacity must be increased tenfold (the European budget weighs 1% of its wealth, against 24% for the American federal state) and the EU must be able to borrow.

A helping hand from Europe must definitively supplement the invisible hand – with shared unemployment insurance or a real supranational European reserve of citizens who can be mobilised during crises (doctors, firefighters, etc.) for example – to keep European peoples hopes up. The EU motto “United in diversity” could then be supplemented as follows: “United in diversity and solidarity”. Europeans have the means to be united without being uniform, in solidarity rather than solitary, democrats rather than vetocrats, but there is still an additional meaningful role to be found, an universal ambition to meet its historical greatness.

The Covid-19 has revealed Europe’s vulnerability. It should be better prepared for the crises on which scientists alert us, and climate change is the most frightening: collapse of ecosystems, inhabitable regions, fall in agricultural yields if we continue the current trajectory. Therefore the EU must urgently mobilise all its tools for economic recovery and debt to fight global warming through a decarbonised and fair transition. The EU has an historic opportunity to do so and a duty to the younger generations from whom budgets will be borrowed. The “never again” united its oldest ones, the “everything but not that” linked to an uncontrollable climate change unites all Europeans today (93% according to a survey).

Just seventy years ago, six European countries gathered around the shared management of coal to maintain peace between states, Europe must now clearly unite towards full decarbonisation in 2050 to save ecosystems, but also and above all convince and inspire the world to take action. There will be no prosperity, no resilience of humanity without protected ecosystems. Like Ulysses after a long journey, the European civilisation will only have a lasting existence by completing this last test which will bring it the recognition of all.

This generation is the last to be in capacity to act, so let’s be bold, ambitious and inspiring, keeping in mind the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “We do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children”.



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Solve et Coagula | New Europe


From Nunzio Apostolico representing Pope Benedict in the United States, Cardinal Carlo Maria Viganò was transferred to the to the Diocese of Ulpiana (Pristina Kosovo) after he publicized a 7,000 word letter asking for the resignation of Pope Francis, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse and giving comfort to a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.

Today, from Pristina, he wrote the following open letter to US President Donald Trump.

June 7, 2020 Holy Trinity Sunday

Mr. President,

In recent months we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity, while the children of darkness represent an absolute minority. And yet the former are the object of a sort of discrimination which places them in a situation of moral inferiority with respect to their adversaries, who often hold strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media. In an apparently inexplicable way, the good are held hostage by the wicked and by those who help them either out of self-interest or fearfulness.

These two sides, which have a Biblical nature, follow the clear separation between the offspring of the Woman and the offspring of the Serpent. On the one hand there are those who, although they have a thousand defects and weaknesses, are motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family and the nation, exploit workers to make themselves unduly wealthy, foment internal divisions and wars, and accumulate power and money: for them the fallacious illusion of temporal well-being will one day – if they do not repent – yield to the terrible fate that awaits them, far from God, in eternal damnation.

In society, Mr. President, these two opposing realities co-exist as eternal enemies, just as God and Satan are eternal enemies. And it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against you in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans. They seem to be so certain of already having everything under control that they have laid aside that circumspection that until now had at least partially concealed their true intentions. The investigations already under way will reveal the true responsibility of those who managed the Covid emergency not only in the area of health care but also in politics, the economy, and the media. We will probably find that in this colossal operation of social engineering there are people who have decided the fate of humanity, arrogating to themselves the right to act against the will of citizens and their representatives in the governments of nations.

We will also discover that the riots in these days were provoked by those who, seeing that the virus is inevitably fading and that the social alarm of the pandemic is waning, necessarily have had to provoke civil disturbances, because they would be followed by repression which, although legitimate, could be condemned as an unjustified aggression against the population. The same thing is also happening in Europe, in perfect synchrony. It is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would like to see someone elected in the upcoming presidential elections who embodies the goals of the deep state and who expresses those goals faithfully and with conviction. It will not be surprising if, in a few months, we learn once again that hidden behind these acts of vandalism and violence there are those who hope to profit from the dissolution of the social order so as to build a world without freedom: Solve et Coagula, as the Masonic adage teaches.

Although it may seem disconcerting, the opposing alignments I have described are also found in religious circles. There are faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ, but there are also mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by ravenous wolves. It is not surprising that these mercenaries are allies of the children of darkness and hate the children of light: just as there is a deep state, there is also a deep church that betrays its duties and forswears its proper commitments before God. Thus the Invisible Enemy, whom good rulers fight against in public affairs, is also fought against by good shepherds in the ecclesiastical sphere. It is a spiritual battle, which I spoke about in my recent Appeal which was published on May 8.

For the first time, the United States has in you a President who courageously defends the right to life, who is not ashamed to denounce the persecution of Christians throughout the world, who speaks of Jesus Christ and the right of citizens to freedom of worship. Your participation in the March for Life, and more recently your proclamation of the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, are actions that confirm which side you wish to fight on. And I dare to believe that both of us are on the same side in this battle, albeit with different weapons.

For this reason, I believe that the attack to which you were subjected after your visit to the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II is part of the orchestrated media narrative which seeks not to fight racism and bring social order, but to aggravate dispositions; not to bring justice, but to legitimize violence and crime; not to serve the truth, but to favor one political faction. And it is disconcerting that there are Bishops – such as those whom I recently denounced – who, by their words, prove that they are aligned on the opposing side. They are subservient to the deep state, to globalism, to aligned thought, to the New World Order which they invoke ever more frequently in the name of a universal brotherhood which has nothing Christian about it, but which evokes the Masonic ideals of those want to dominate the world by driving God out of the courts, out of schools, out of families, and perhaps even out of churches.

The American people are mature and have now understood how much the mainstream media does not want to spread the truth but seeks to silence and distort it, spreading the lie that is useful for the purposes of their masters. However, it is important that the good – who are the majority – wake up from their sluggishness and do not accept being deceived by a minority of dishonest people with unavowable purposes. It is necessary that the good, the children of light, come together and make their voices heard. What more effective way is there to do this, Mr. President, than by prayer, asking the Lord to protect you, the United States, and all of humanity from this enormous attack of the Enemy? Before the power of prayer, the deceptions of the children of darkness will collapse, their plots will be revealed, their betrayal will be shown, their frightening power will end in nothing, brought to light and exposed for what it is: an infernal deception.

Mr. President, my prayer is constantly turned to the beloved American nation, where I had the privilege and honor of being sent by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio. In this dramatic and decisive hour for all of humanity, I am praying for you and also for all those who are at your side in the government of the United States. I trust that the American people are united with me and you in prayer to Almighty God.

United against the Invisible Enemy of all humanity, I bless you and the First Lady, the beloved American nation, and all men and women of good will.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò

Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana
Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America

 

 



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Coronavirus live news: Europe halts delivery of faulty Chinese face masks; WHO says Covid-19 may never go | World news


Medical workers in Indonesia are complaining of persistent delays to an increase in coronavirus testing promised by their president, Joko Widodo, Reuters reports.

The south east Asian nation, the world’s fourth most populous, has the highest coronavirus death toll in east Asia outside China, and one of the lowest global testing rates.

Indonesia reported 568 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 16,006, with 1,043 deaths. It has so far conducted around 50 tests per 100,000 people, compared with 2,500 per 100,000 in neighbouring Singapore.

Widodo promised in April that 10,000 tests would be performed each day, but the goal is yet to be reached, with testing rates on average hovering at less than half that figure. Health experts have urged Jakarta to rapidly increase its testing rate to determine the true spread of the virus across the Indonesian archipelago, saying that without sufficient data the full extent of the outbreak will remain unknown.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta. Photograph: Muhammad Zaenuddin/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“We can’t even get the results after two weeks,” Meneldi Rasmin, a consulting doctor at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, told Reuters.

“So we cannot determine whether it’s COVID-19 or not. We can only judge them (the patients) from clinical symptoms,” he said, attributing the delay to limited equipment capacity.

In between his rounds at Persahabatan Hospital where medical staff move about in white protective gear, Rasmin called for testing capacities to be scaled up not only in the capital, but across the sprawling country.

“Early detection by rapid testing should take place in every small district. Local clinics should take control, instead of (centralized) rapid testing,” he said.
“It should be organized at the community level, working together with the district authority.”



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The coronavirus crisis opens a new fracture in Europe – VoxEurop (English)



How has the mobility of Europeans evolved with the different measures and degrees of containment to slow the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic? Follow the changes thanks to the application developed by our partners from Civio.

By 15 March, half of the people who regularly walk along the streets of European capitals had vanished. Europe had already recorded around 40,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. A few days later, the number of people on the streets continued to fall, while the number of those infected kept growing. In the following weeks the number of pedestrians was around 30% of the regular levels. And it has remained that way until now, almost a month and a half later, when we are experiencing a slight resurgence in mobility thanks to confinement measures being relaxed in some countries. On Friday, 17 April, the occupation of European streets rose above 40% of the usual levels for the first time in a month. By then, there were more than 765,000 confirmed cases and more than 76,000 deaths in the European Union.

But this comeback to normal is not homogeneous across Europe. Cities such as Athens, Zagreb, Copenhagen and Berlin have seen an increase in the number of passers-by over the last week. In Madrid, Rome and Paris, with much more restrictive measures, the occupation is still very low, almost always flat and below 20%. As of 17 April, Italy (more than 22,000), Spain (more than 19,000) and France (almost 18,000) are the three EU countries with the highest number of covid-related deaths. The exception: Lisbon, where pedestrian mobility is similar, below 20%, even if the number of deaths in Portugal (657 on 17 April) is far from the figures in Spain, Italy and France.

Other European capitals opted from the very beginning for more lax measures, allowing mobility and keeping shops open. In Stockholm, for example, street pedestrian traffic has rarely fallen below 50% of the usual level. And on 18 April it reached 77%. Something similar happens in Helsinki, which barely went below 50% and was close to 80% on Saturday.

The road traffic levels match almost exactly the patterns seen with pedestrians. The drop in the number of cars on the road has also been drastic, but not as much. The number of vehicles compared to the usual figure in European capitals has been around 40%. But, as with pedestrian mobility, on 18 April we saw the first clear peak in growth in the last month, with Europe-wide levels reaching 45% of normal traffic.

Once again, the difference between Central/Northern Europe and Southern countries is substantial. Traffic in Rome remains at around 20%, as in Athens, Lisbon or Madrid, while Paris stays at 10%. Meanwhile, Copenhagen, Prague and Stockholm are already close to pre-crisis levels, at around 80% of their usual ones. Berlin is getting close to that.

Only one in ten planes flying

Air traffic has experienced the sharpest and most homogeneous fall in the crisis. On 15 March, traffic in the main airports of each country was already below 20% of their usual activity. Nowadays, it doesn’t even reach 10%.

In most cases, the fall in flights happened in the third week of March, between the 15th and 22nd, in line with the Commission’s recommendation which urged all member countries to close their borders, with only some exceptions: residents of the Schengen area travelling home, health workers, cross-border ones, carriers, diplomats, armed forces, or people travelling for humanitarian reasons or “imperative family reasons”. The Commission recommends that these restrictions remain in place until at least 15 May.

In Italy, the first European country to be hit by the coronavirus and the first to implement confinement measures (first regionally, then expanded to the whole country on 9 March), air traffic had already decreased by then, to about 30% in the second week of March, the first week we have data for.

This decline in flights was abrupt in Riga, Bratislava, Nicosia, Warsaw or Madrid. In other European capitals the shift was somewhat milder, with more progressive restrictions, as in Zagreb, Sofia or Dublin. Eventually, almost all European countries followed the recommended border closure. Except Ireland. This is the reason why traffic at Dublin airport is much more progressive and didn’t fall below 30% until 27 March. On that date, Ireland was one of the European countries with the least number of deaths (19) and had just over 1,800 confirmed cases.



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The Day After (II): What Europe?



“The Day After” for the European Union, the so-called “bloc”, will either have to stay as is and sooner, rather later, dissolve. Or it will have to change in an attempt to survive. This will be difficult as huge organisations like the EU do not historically adapt, but disappear. And yet, the instinct for survival is very strong, and the bloc may radically adapt to the “new norm” because if it doesn’t, its servants will not lose a little, but all.

Maintaining the “status quo ante”

The bloc may stay as-is – an apolitical power structure, ruling half a billion people by a self-reproduced, non-accountable administrative machine, without any democratic legitimisation.

This is the same bloc from which the United Kingdom withdrew and is the EU which ordinary citizens left behind when they entered into house isolation last month. If this will be the bloc that re-surfaces once Europe’s residents are released, it will continue living in its own world, further distancing itself from its own citizens and soon will collapse.

After returning to society, ordinary people will be different. If the Brussels nomenklatura remains the same, it will face a problem, a big problem. Most people after the long home detention will be different. Most, at least for a while, will be better people because they would have spent time with themselves and their families and would have discovered that moderation is a virtue, while forced minimalism, once they are used to it, gives a different dimension to life.

As for the European Union, the inmates who spent day and night in front of a screen sensed that the EU had no political role in the crisis. The bloc has been judged by its citizens as having been “in absentia”.

Indeed, Viktor Orban dissolved the Hungarian Parliament in an unprecedented “coup d’état” and Brussels ignored it, displaying no political capacity to handle the situation.

Dad, is America far away? Shoot-up and swim…

Leaders emerge from confrontations, and the virus crisis is the world biggest confrontation since the Second World War. Whether it’s a confrontation between China and the Western World or between humankind and nature, makes no difference. In any instance, new leaders will emerge. This is typical after large events. Think of what great leaders Europe had after World War II and during the Cold War – Francoise Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, Aldo Moro, Margaret Thatcher and many others who were followed by mediocracies in the years of peace.

The emergence of new leaders is now in the making. In this process, the bloc does not participate as the Brussels bureaucracy although it is the most sophisticated administrative machine of the world. It is politically sterile. It is composed of civil servants and only civil servants who, in the absence of political leaders, began making political decisions. That is what undermined the European project.

In the emerging post-crisis new world, the European Union is needed more than ever, ironically, for the same reasons it was established seven decades ago – to unite Europeans and contain Germany. At that time it was to guarantee that Berlin didn’t dominate Europe again with its Panzers, and today it’s to be sure Germany doesn’t attempt to dominate Europe again with its Deutsche Mark, which masquerades as the euro.

Maintaining and strengthening the European Union, turning it into a united nation that is citizen useful and friendly, is the only way to keep alive the best European achievement of all time.

This will be a difficult task. The European Commission, the presumed government of Europe, must attempt it. It is hard to do so as it must give up all privileges its employees have accumulated and turn them into ordinary civil servants.

Once the bloc’s civil servants realise that if the union disintegrates, their pensions will be paid (if they will be paid) by their own countries of origin and will be at the level of national pensions, they will certainly behave.

The change we need

There are some ideas about the changes the bloc needs to make in order to survive. The most important change is the “presumed government of Europe” must become “the government of Europe” and must become political.

Europe has serious survival problems to address, more than ever, and they are all political. They require political solutions that no administration can give no matter how good it is and how well it is paid. That is why the government of the bloc must become political, democratic, accountable, and at the service of citizens.

“The Day After” sequel of New Europe will provide food for thought to all those pretending they rule Europe from their couch but have a better sense than anybody else about the threats to their jobs and pensions when everything will return to the “new normal”.

In the next episodes, we will provide some ideas as to how the European Commission should change in an attempt to survive. How to make the bloc political; how to bring the Directors General down to earth at the service of the political personnel; how to restore accountability; how to reduce over-regulation; how to restore transparency especially in money matters; how to redefine the role of the cabinets and other unpleasant suggestions, yet essential for the survival of the Union, in the post virus era.

(to be continued)

Related Articles:

The Day After: a new Yalta in the making



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China to supply Europe with masks and medical equipment



In a tweet published on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that China will provide Europe with medical equipment and test kits, following talks with the country’s Prime Minister Minister Li Keqiang.

China’s medical supplies include 2 million surgical masks, 200,000 N95 masks and 50,000 testing kits, as the EU27 bloc is running out of medical equipment, having recording dozens of thousands of COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, a group of 300 Chinese intensive-care doctors began to arrive in Italy, the worst-affected country by Coronavirus outside China. To date, Italy has 41,035 confirmed cases and 3,405 deaths.

Belgium’s Health Minister Maggie De Block announced on Wednesday that the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and founder of e-commerce colossus Alibaba would ship 500,000 masks and 30,000 test kits, to be distributed among the health providers.





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UK coronavirus response: What does Britain know that Europe doesn’t?


Flanked by the country’s chief scientific and medical advisers, the Prime Minister announced that his government was moving to the “delay” phase of its plan to tackle the outbreak, and warned Britons that they were facing their “worst public health crisis for a generation” and should be prepared “to lose loved ones before their time.”

And yet, faced with such grave prospects, would the UK be taking the same stringent precautions as other affected countries? No, was the answer. At least not for now.

The British government has repeatedly said it does not believe that banning large-scale gatherings and closing schools — like Italy, France, Germany and Spain have done — would be effective in preventing the spread of the disease.

This comes despite the fact that parts of the British Isles, including the Republic of Ireland and Scotland (which is in the UK but has a separate healthcare system), are now emulating their continental neighbors.

However, with Johnson under pressure to do the same, the government said late on Friday it was planning to publish emergency legislation to ban large events.

“Ministers are working with the chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer on our plan to stop various types of public event, including mass gatherings, beginning next week,” a Whitehall source told PA Media.

“We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home.

“We have drafted emergency legislation to give the government the powers it needs to deal with coronavirus, including powers to stop mass gatherings and compensate organizations.”

The reason the UK has held off stricter “social distancing” measures appears to be rooted in the government’s prediction that the outbreak may not peak until 14 weeks from now — and that people will not be willing to drastically alter their ways of life and stick to the new rules for over three months, so there’s little point imposing more restrictions just yet.

The latest recommendation for Britons is to self-isolate for seven days if they begin to experience a persistent cough or high temperature, and to continue with rigorous hygiene like frequently washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces.

Government ministers claim their decisions are being led purely by science. That science, they say, currently suggests that it would be beneficial for the country to build up some sort of herd immunity to the novel coronavirus strain in the long run. In short, authorities do want some Britons to get the bug, especially since for many, its symptoms will not be particularly debilitating.

The approach has divided opinion in the medical community. Some experts have accused Johnson of failing to grasp the severity of the situation, while others have praised the government for refusing to bow to continent-wide pressure to clamp down on the public’s movements.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases in the UK stood at 798, with 10 deaths. However, the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance has admitted it was possible that 5,000 to 10,000 people may already be infected. And with testing capacity now about to be ramped up to 10,000 people a day, numbers will surely rise.

Medics warn of complacency

Government scientists said they have noticed that the virus typically results in a mild infection initially for patients with no underlying health conditions, which lasts about five days, but for the elderly or infirm, the pathogen enters a second phase thereafter, prompting an immune response that causes much of the damage that kills.

The experts’ hope is that the UK’s new plan will push the disease’s peak past the traditional end of the flu season in April and into the summer, when the country’s hospitals will be under less strain.

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But many prominent members of the medical community are unconvinced by the government’s approach. Doctors on the front line of intensive care units have warned about the potential lack of respirators, as seen in Italy and China when cases peaked there, and said that if staff become sick themselves, access to experienced labor could become a problem.

The editor-in-chief of the influential journal The Lancet criticized the UK’s response to the crisis. “To avoid an unmanageable catastrophe in the UK, we need to be honest about what seems likely to happen in coming weeks. We need urgent surge capacity in intensive care. The NHS is not prepared,” Richard Horton tweeted Thursday.

“I am not being alarmist. What is happening in Italy is real and taking place now. Our government is not preparing us for that reality. We need immediate and assertive social distancing and closure policies. We need to prepare the NHS. This is a serious plea.”

For a country that until fairly recently routinely imposed quarantines on family pets, it’s ironic that Johnson’s “island mentality” — made famous by his enthusiastic support for leaving the European Union — seems not to stretch to public health, for ministers dismissed the suggestion Britain could shut its borders as US President Donald Trump ordered this week.

‘He’s not doing a Trump’

Some scientists did offer words of support for the UK’s measures.

“I am the first to admit that I’m not Boris Johnson’s biggest fan. But I’m relatively impressed that unlike other political leaders, who’ve kind of bowed to the pressure of each other and their populations to implement school closures — which we don’t have enough evidence to know if it will make a difference or not — Johnson is listening to the current evidence that’s out there,” Dr. Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics, told CNN.

“He’s not doing a Trump and shutting down borders, which we know will have no effect. He’s taking a rather measured approach now — but yes, it’s a gamble.”

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Wenham added that she believed the government’s priority was to avoid panic, and ensure the public’s cooperation with prevention measures.

“It’s a political gamble if they get it wrong. If all the countries that implemented school closures and mass travel and mass gatherings see reductions in rates, and the rates in the UK are soaring — that’s a gamble,” she said.

“We know for example that shutting schools works for influenza because children are super-spreaders. We don’t know if that’s true for coronavirus yet. But I think the government is saying ‘look, we don’t yet know if kids are super-spreaders. So, why cause all the havoc of disrupting people’s lives?'”

Keith Neal, emeritus professor in the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, also said he backed moves to contain the outbreak.

“The plans are sensible, it is very easy to say more needs to be done, but there is little evidence to make any decision,” he told PA Media.

But former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC that many people “will be surprised and concerned” by the lack of action in controlling movements. “I think it is surprising and concerning that we’re not doing any of it at all when we have just four weeks before we get to the stage that Italy is at.

“You would have thought that every single thing we do in that four weeks would be designed to slow the spread of people catching the virus.”

‘Spray, pay and pray’

Where the government has been more comfortable making decisive moves is on the economy.

New Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week put emergency funds on the table in his maiden budget — not just to shore up the UK’s National Health Service at a time of emergency, but also to shield small- to medium-sized businesses and the “gig economy,” replete with freelancers, from the effects of having staff off sick or working from home in isolation.

In a coordinated approach, the Bank of England also cut rates and announced stimulus.

The strategy was dubbed “Spray, pay and pray” by the Financial Times’ Lex column.

And therein lies the clue: Downing Street seems to think the panic caused by the new strain of the virus — or Covid-19 as it has become known — could be more dangerous in the long run than the actual illness itself.

Whether the gamble of “keeping calm and carrying on” in the face of the coronavirus is the appropriate approach, only time will tell.

Tara John contributed to this report.





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