European countries like Italy, Spain and France — which had put in place strict lockdown measures after the coronavirus outbreak in their cities and towns — are now planning to ease restrictions even as they continue to report new cases and deaths.
The three countries are among those hit first and the hardest by the pandemic in Europe, though recent numbers might indicate a slight improvement.
Spain, for instance, recorded the lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths in over a month at 288 on April 26.
Against this background, the country announced that it is easing lockdown measures to allow children under the age of 14 outside for the first time in weeks. They will now be allowed to play outside, accompanied by their parents, for one hour daily. However, they are not allowed to go further than one kilometre.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
This, according to reports, is one of the first in a slew of measures that the Spanish government is hoping to implement in order to take the country forward towards a "new normality".
Health authorities in the country have also said the country's recent figures show a "clear descending trend" and that the government's decision to allow certain non-essential workers to return to their jobs about a fortnight ago has not had a negative impact.
Spain has reported 207,634 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 23,000 deaths. The growth rate of cases inside the country now stands at 0.8 percent, according to reports, down from 38 percent on March 14, when a state of emergency was declared.
Italy, a major hotspot not just in Europe but across the world, is planning to restart manufacturing on May 4 and will permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe's longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on April 26.
"We expect a very complex challenge," Conte said as he outlined the road map to restarting activities put into hibernation since early March. "We will live with the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible."Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen fully from the beginning of June, although takeaway will be possible earlier.