Dubai: With more and more countries beginning to show a glimmer of hope in terms of flattening the COVID-19 curve, leaders are sketching out their strategy for a phased easing of restrictions to get the economy back on track.
The moves come amid warnings from the UN and the scientific community that lifting emergency measures could lead to a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Germany saw a fourth consecutive daily decline in new cases, agencies reported, although the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the country has risen by 2,082 to 125,098, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed. Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Wednesday discuss with her cabinet and the premiers of the country's 16 states the way forward with regard to easing the lockdown.
Spain flattening the curve
Some Spanish businesses, including construction and manufacturing, were allowed to restart, Reuters reported. Shops, bars and public spaces are to stay closed until at least April 26.
Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday the country was flattening the curve on the graph, representing the rate of growth of the outbreak. The overnight death toll from the coronavirus rose to 567 on Tuesday from 517 a day earlier, but the country reported its lowest increase in new cases since March 18. Total deaths climbed to 18,056.
Italy, which has the world's second highest death toll of 20,465, maintained some tight restrictions on movement.
There was a glimmer of hope in Denmark too, one of the first European countries to shut down. It will reopen day care centres and schools for children in first to fifth grade on April 15.
Austria a test case
Austria will be a test case of how to go about the task of re-opening itself again. Thousands of shops across Austria reopened on Tuesday, but the government said it was "not out of the woods". Face masks are mandatory in all shops as well as in public transport. If there's no pickup in infections all other stores can reopen May 2 with schools to follow.
Austria acted early to close schools, bars, theatres, restaurants, non-essential shops and other gathering places about four weeks ago. It has told the public to stay home. Austria has reported 384 deaths in total, fewer than some larger European countries have been suffering each day, Reuters reported.
The World Health Organisation said the number of new cases was easing in some parts of Europe, including Italy and Spain, but outbreaks were growing in Britain and Turkey.
"The overall world outbreak, 90 per cent of cases are coming from Europe and the United States of America. So we are certainly not seeing the peak yet," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a briefing in Geneva.
Governments are trying to balance the desperate need to halt the damage to the economy against the risk of a resurgence of the pandemic. The number of new cases in Europe has stabilised in recent days though more than 50,000 people have died on the continent and the fatalities continue to climb, Bloomberg reported.
However, the UK is projecting that it won’t reach its peak until later this week and the government is due to review its exit strategy on Thursday.