European countries impose new Covid-19 curbs as cases spike

Paris, Oct 15 (IANS) Countries across Europe were imposing a series of new restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic amid a spike in the number of fresh cases and deaths across the continent.As of Thursday, the continent’s overall caseload stands at 4,301,247, while the death toll has surged to 197,075, according to the latest update by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.The agency said that Europe’s infection rate “has been increasing for 77 days” and there were more than 700,000 new coronavirus cases last week, which was a 36 per cent weekly increase.In France, one of the worst-hit European countries, President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced that a curfew will be introduced in big cities as a reaction to the recent resurgence of new cases.Starting from Friday midnight, a four-week 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew will be imposed in the greater Paris region and the eight major cities of Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Rouen, Toulouse, Montpellier and Saint-Etienne, Xinhua news agency reported.These regions are already on maximum alert, with bars and gyms shut down, theatres and restaurants under strict health protocol. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in public spaces such as beaches and parks. Anyone violating the curfew would be fined 135 euros, and permissions will be available for those who have health emergencies and work at night.Presently, France has a total of 779,063 Covid-19 cases, Europe’s second biggest tally after Spain, with 33,037.In the UK, a new three-tier Covid-19 alert system came into force across England on Wednesday.The alert system comprises three levels: “Medium”, “High” and “Very High” with the level being decided according to local infection rate.The UK has so far reported a total of 654,644 coronavirus cases, with 43,155 fatalities, the highest death toll in Europe.On Wednesday, Italy, the once epicentre of the pandemic in Europe, reported its largest single-day spike, with more than 7,300 cases, which took the overall tally to 372,799, while the death toll surged to 36,289. The grim milestone came a day after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree putting new limits on gatherings, sports and school activities. But bars and restaurants are still allowed to operate until midnight, but only for table service, NPR news reported.The Catalonian region of Spain has ordered all bars and restaurants to close their on-premises operations, saying they can only sell to-go items for the next 15 days. Shopping areas, theatres and gyms will have to operate at reduced capacity.While the Czech Republic, has closed schools, restaurants and bars, The Netherlands is enacting a partial lockdown due to a recent resurgence.–IANSksk/

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