Covid-19: The pestilence that has forced the world’s people into self-imprisonment

egyptinPARIS: As of Thursday, more than 3.9 billion people, or half of the world’s population, have been told to remain indoors as countries combat the coronavirus pandemic, an AFP tally has shown.

The measures — which include compulsory or recommended confinement, curfews and quarantines — are in place in more than 90 countries and territories. The introduction of a curfew in Thailand, which takes effect on Friday, pushed the number past half of the global population of 7.8 billion.

Some 2.78 billion residents of 49 countries and territories are currently subject to obligatory confinement at home.

In Europe, the likes of Britain, France, Italy and Spain are under restrictions. In Asia, similar rules apply to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka among others. Large parts of the US are under some kind of lockdown and even relatively isolated New Zealand has not been spared.

Although COVID-19 arrived in Africa later than other regions, countries as distant as Morocco and South Africa have begun to take action.

Eritrea joined the list on Thursday, ordering its citizens to remain in their homes for 21 days,

In most places, people are still able to get out of the house to make vital purchases, such as food or medicine or to go to work, though residents are encouraged to work from home if possible.

In at least 10 other countries, totalling 600 million people, governments are urging residents to stay at home, but without introducing any coercive measures such as fines or arrests.

This is the case in Germany, Canada, Mexico and Iran among others.

At least 26 other nations or territories, accounting for some 500 million inhabitants, have introduced curfews, obliging people to stay at home throughout the evening and night. This method is much used in African countries including Kenya, Egypt and Mali and Latin American nations including Chile, Panama and Puerto Rico.

In at least seven countries, the governments have focused on the main population centres. Bans are now in place on anyone leaving or entering the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh, Madina and Makkah. Finland has introduced similar rules for Helsinki and DR Congo for Kinshasa. These restrictions cover over 30 million residents.

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