Rome – It was ‘Independence Day’ in Britain on Monday – except for the country’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, who was locked down and forced to self-isolate because he had contact with one of his key ministers , who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Johnson’s imprisonment underscores the stop-start challenge the British government is facing in its efforts to open up the country, while seeking to contain the spread of the highly contagious delta version of the virus, first detected in India was.
Independence Day was set for the lifting of nearly all pandemic restrictions and meant Johnson’s moment of victory, a reward for the rapid and successful rollout of vaccines. According to political commentator Michael Deacon, a country columnist, “instead it became a perplexing farce.” daily Telegraph The newspaper, where Johnson made a name for himself as a journalist before venturing into politics.
“Say what you like about Fate, but he certainly has a sense of humour. What his dark humour, how wickedly mischievous, arranging events so that Boris Johnson is allowed to spend ‘Independence Day’ in solitary confinement. to be forced,” Deacon remarked.
And Independence Day wasn’t the only thing that broke it anyway: While carefree youth packed the nightclubs, older travelers appeared reluctant to leave remote work and go back to their offices – and many businesses. were not encouraging them to do so. So.
Freedoms were given back by the government but hundreds of thousands of Britons chose not to exercise them.
Hundreds of businesses, including factories, supermarkets, pubs, banks and cinemas, were forced to close because, like the prime minister, being in close proximity to someone who tested positive forced employees to self-isolate. was forced to. Rail and bus companies were also forced to cut some services, including to London.
Governments scramble, markets roll down
Britain is not the only country facing a similar crisis – governments around the world are scrambling to shape strategies that allow the easing of restrictions, as well as containing the virus, where A new epidemic of the unrelated is emerging in advanced countries. .
Nearby, the Netherlands had to backtrack on its grand reopening and reimposed restrictions last week after cases spiked by 500 percent, largely among unaffiliated youth. “What we thought would be possible was not possible in practice,” Prime Minister Mark Root told his nation. “We had a poor judgment, which we regret and for which we apologise,” he said.
Analysts say the Dutch and British experiences are being seen as salutary lessons by markets, with investors fearing any country that feels confident enough to lift coronavirus restrictions may engage in wholesale wishful thinking. is.
Stock markets around the world fell on Monday amid growing fears that a surge in delta cases could stifle an economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.1% in its worst session of the year. Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 fell 2.3 percent, to its lowest level since early April, wiping a total of $60 billion from the value of the index.
And Monday’s trading ended in deep red in markets across Europe.
On Tuesday, some European markets recovered some of their Monday losses after trading resumed, but Asian stock markets fell 1% on Tuesday with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index hitting its lowest level in half a year, and Hong Kong. Ke Hang Seng also declined by 1. %. Panicked investors sought safe haven, buying 10-year US Treasury bonds and the US dollar, bringing the value of Britain’s sterling currency to its lowest level since April.
“Growing nerves about delta-variant COVID-19 are dashing hopes of a recovery in the Asia-Pacific,” Jeff Haley, a senior market analyst at New York brokerage Oanda, warned clients in a note. He predicts a messy, unpredictable week in panic-stricken global markets.
According to Susanna Streeter, senior investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdowne, a British financial services company, “the optimism that was on the horizon a few weeks ago is again obscured by dark clouds.”
And with a surge in delta cases, the clouds are darkening in many European and Asian countries.
Confirmed cases in some English regions have returned to levels seen more than four months ago. English health officials say the hospital now has 3,813 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease the disease may have triggered the coronavirus. This is the highest number since March 24.
A total of 39,950 new coronavirus cases were reported across Britain on Monday, the country’s highest figure since 11 January. Nineteen deaths were reported. Some government scientists have warned that the number of daily cases could rise to 100,000 in the coming weeks. Rising cases – and dire predictions – prompted US officials on Monday to urge US citizens not to travel to Britain.
According to British government advisers, the only silver lining is that holistic vaccines are catching and breaking the link between the virus and hospitalizations and deaths. But there are growing fears that as cases increase, new variants may emerge that are resistant to the vaccine.
Neighboring European countries are also seeing a worrying increase in confirmed cases. Spain has reported 61,628 new cases since Friday – mainly of the delta variant.
The Italian government is set to announce that vaccine passes will soon be required for traveling on long-distance trains, dining indoors at restaurants and entering museums, cinemas and gyms. Government officials hope the vaccine-pass requirement will encourage more youth to get vaccinated.
More than half the country is fully vaccinated, but cases are rising without a secret with health ministry officials saying pandemic measures may soon hit several regions, including Sardinia, Sicily, Veneto, Campania and Lazio, in the coming weeks. likely to be implemented again. , the area surrounding Rome. Infections have increased in the last one week, with 3,127 new cases being reported on Sunday.
France reported more than 12,500 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, as the government raced to vaccinate the population. President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that vaccine passes would be required for entry to most public places in the coming weeks and that all health workers should be fully vaccinated.
And the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has issued a warning, saying it expects a sharp jump in coronavirus cases across the continent, with new infections forecast nearly five times as many by August 1.