France, Spain and the Czech Republic posted record increases in coronavirus cases, underscoring growing alarm in Europe as it struggles to control the pandemic.
Politicians at the national level are leaning on local authorities to take the lead in limiting late-night activity in cities and towns, as they fear the economic impact of more wide-ranging measures. That’s led to more severe restrictions in several European cities.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s government ordered bars in Paris to close for a two-week period and said more curbs will be announced on Thursday. The Czech Republic is considering additional steps to prevent the disease from spreading.
“There must be more restrictions such as the ones put in place” in the region of Marseille, where bars and restaurants were shut, Macron said in a TF1 interview.
Daily infections in France increased by 18,746, health authorities said on Wednesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average to the highest level yet. Spain reported a record 5,075 new cases, while infections in Germany in the past 24 hours exceeded 4,000 for the first time since early April.
France’s health minister will announce measures on Thursday that will focus on places where the virus is circulating faster among elderly people and where hospitals are the fullest, Macron said. The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in Paris hospitals has tripled since the start of September, similar to the situation in the Marseille region.
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Like Paris, Berlin is fighting against a surge in infections and will close bars at 11 p.m., starting on Saturday.
The German capital has the worst outbreak among the country’s 16 states, with 40.5 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days, according to the public health authority. The city’s residents would be restricted from domestic travel if the figure rises above 50 — some districts already exceed this threshold.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and state leaders reaffirmed the rules during a conference call on Wednesday.
Coronavirus infections across the whole of Germany climbed by 4,010 in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, the highest since April 10, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That brought the total to 311,137.
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Across the border from Europe’s largest economy, the Czech Republic on Thursday posted a record 5,335 new cases for the previous day. The country’s 14-day cumulative number of cases per capita is now the highest in the EU, surpassing Spain.
The government will announce “more significant” measures to stem the outbreak at the end of the week, Health Minister Roman Prymula said Wednesday, reaffirming a pledge not to impose another full-scale nationwide lockdown.
The virus’s resurgence in Italy — where numbers have been more contained than in some neighboring countries — twice prevented parliamentary votes earlier this week on new measures to combat the pandemic, as a number of lawmakers were in quarantine.
A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended emergency powers to counter the pandemic to Jan. 31. The government again made wearing face masks outdoors compulsory nationwide.