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COVID-19

Europeans harden views towards US and EU after pandemic

"Trust in Trump's America is gone." The coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic deterioration in the European public perception of the US and left many believing the EU had become "irrelevant", new polling finds.

Europeans harden views towards US and EU after pandemic
Europeans have hardened their views of the US. Photo: AFP

The new survey by the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR) says the pandemic has traumatised Europeans and left them “feeling alone and vulnerable”.

The survey studied the views of Europeans towards the EU and notably its response to the coronavirus crisis and the results did not make for positive reading.

“There is a powerful sense among citizens of almost all surveyed member states that their country was largely left to fend for itself in dealing with the pandemic,” read the study.

“Few respondents to the survey had a positive view of the EU's coronavirus response. In no surveyed country do a majority of them see a positive change in the performance of EU institutions during the crisis,” the survey found.

Some 63 percent of Italians, 61 percent of French people, and 52 percent of Spaniards said that the EU has not lived up to its responsibilities. 

“Finally, and perhaps most damningly of all, a large plurality (and, in some cases, a majority) in every surveyed member state described the EU as having slipped into irrelevance in the coronavirus crisis,” it said.

But that did not mean there is an increased desire to see the European project fail.

In fact a majority in all countries surveyed believed there was a need for greater European cooperation after the pandemic.

“The share of respondents who held this belief was as high as 91 percent in Portugal and 80 percent in Spain. But perhaps even more noteworthy was the response in less Europhile member states. In France, Sweden, and Denmark, more than half of respondents approved of greater cooperation at the European level. In Italy, 77 percent did,” read the survey.

The survey revealed that one of the impacts of the crisis was the desire by many Europeans to see greater border controls.

“A substantial share of the population in surveyed countries – ranging from 48 percent in Denmark to 73 percent in Portugal – supports stricter border controls. This is a powerful signal of Europeans' current sense of vulnerability,” it read.

Europe's views of US deteriorate

 

Strikingly the survey also revealed a steep deterioration in the European perception of Donald Trump's America.

More than 60 percent of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in the United States as a global leader.

Forty-six percent of French respondents, and 42 percent of Germans, said their view of the US had worsened “a lot” as a result of the coronavirus crisis (the highest results among all surveyed countries).

“Now, Europeans' trust in Trump's America is gone. Many of them have been appalled by the country's chaotic response to Covid-19; the lack of solidarity it showed with Europeans in the March 12th closure of its border to members of the Schengen area; and its lack of leadership in tackling the coronavirus crisis at the global level – or even engagement with the issue (beyond a war of words with the World Health Organisation),” the study wrote.

“Europeans have accepted the fact that Trump's America is not necessarily a friend of Europe in a time of need.”

 

 

Europeans' view of China has also worsened since the pandemic.

“More than 60 percent of respondents in France and Denmark reported that their view of China had worsened. In eight of nine surveyed countries, the share of respondents who have adopted a more negative view of China in the past year has increased by between a factor of two and a factor of ten,” the study read.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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