By Tony Winterburn • 17 March 2020 • 10:05
Image of a Russian Air Force Su-25 attack jet landing at Vladivostok in 2013.
Credit: Wikipedia - Fedor Leukhin CC BY-SA 2.0
EU leaders on Monday imposed a new wave of drastic measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus that has infected more than 180,000 people worldwide, killed more than 7,000 and is now threatening to overwhelm health systems in the richest, most-advanced countries on Earth.
“We are at war,” French President Emmanuel Macron declared in a televised speech to his nation, in which he announced a 15-day lockdown that would permit only the most essential movements, beginning at noon on Tuesday.
“It is, of course, a sanitary war,” Macron said. “We are not fighting against an army or another nation. But the enemy is here. It is invisible, elusive and it is progressing. And this requires our general mobilization.”
Macron’s speech was just one of many remarkable public appearances on Monday by world leaders who rolled out unprecedented measures to fight the microscopic enemy.
After the surge of COVID-19 cases in Europe led the Italian government to put the country on lockdown, other member states have implemented drastic measures and travel restrictions, including partially closing their borders.
European Parliament president David Sassoli agreed that strengthening controls at the external borders of the EU could have a positive effect, but warned against the reintroduction of unnecessary internal border controls.
“It imposes major economic costs on the EU as a whole and prevents goods from reaching where they are needed,” he said.
The EU is urging its members to put common health screening procedures in place at their borders to limit the spread of the virus, but not to block the transport of important medical equipment.
In a series of guidelines for border management measures, the commission urged member states to facilitate the circulation of workers, to ensure an efficient movement of goods and to impose restrictions only when they are “duly motivated” and science-based.
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