European countries are on high alert as the number of coronavirus cases on the continent has more than doubled in 10 days, with several southern European countries reporting their highest daily case numbers this week.
The entire continent reported more than 200,000 daily infections for the first time on 22nd October, overtaking the number of daily cases in India, Brazil and the United States combined.
Earlier this week, Spain became the first western European nation to surpass one million COVID-19 cases with Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez announcing on 23rd October, the real number was probably more than three million.
Meanwhile, in Slovakia, Prime Minister Igor Matovic has announced a nationwide lockdown will start from Saturday, 24th October until at least November 1st. The government also plans to launch mass COVID-19 testing from Friday, 23rd to Sunday 25th October, targeting the most-affected districts.
In France, cases rose by a record 41,622 on 22nd October and as a result its government has imposed a curfew on two-thirds of the country, that is approximately 46 million people, for six weeks starting at 9pm on 23rd October.
Additionally, in several regions of France, more than half the intensive care beds are now occupied by Covid-19 patients.
“Every hour in France, 1,000 people are declared to have COVID-19. Every minute there is a new hospitalisation. The steps we are taking aim to reverse the trend. Each of us holds a piece of the solution,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran wrote on Twitter.
Also, Poland will on 24th October close restaurants and bars for two weeks and limit public gatherings to five people after new coronavirus infections hit a daily record of more than 13,600.
“Our actions must be much more decisive,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared, as he said a full lockdown will go ahead if necessary. “What worries us a lot is the speed of the increase.”
Starting from 23rd October at midnight, Italy’s region of Lazio, which includes the capital Rome, will be under an overnight five-hour curfew, in line with other regions such as Lombardy and Campania.
Lazio residents will not be able to leave their homes from midnight to 5am, except travel to or from work or other emergency reasons. The move comes as the country registered a record high of 16,079 new cases.
Germany reported more than 10,000 daily cases for the first time in the past 24 hours, and has extended travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, most of Austria and Italian regions including Rome.
Belgium, one of the European countries worst hit by the new coronavirus, tightened restrictions on physical distancing on Friday by banning fans from sports matches, limiting the number of people in cultural spaces and closing theme parks. The country had already closed cafes, bars and restaurants and imposed a night curfew.
Belgium has Europe’s second-highest infection rate per capita after the Czech Republic whose newly appointed health minister was forced to resign after breaking strict government restrictions by visiting a restaurant in Prague.
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