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Covid-19 cases surging in Europe, triggering tightening restrictions

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Czech Republic has Europe’s highest rate of coronavirus infection.
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LONDON — Countries across Europe are tightening restrictive measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic amid a surge in cases.

Europe surpassed 100,000 daily reported Covid-19 cases for the first time last week. Cases continued to grow over the weekend.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Czech Republic has Europe’s highest rate of coronavirus infection, with 433 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.

The total number of cases rose to 117,110 on Monday in the country of 10.7 million.

In July, the central European country held a “Farewell Covid” party when thousands of Prague residents dined outdoors at a 500-yard long table across the landmark Charles Bridge to celebrate their victory over the virus.

That celebration felt like a distant memory after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that strict measures against the virus would take effect on Wednesday. The country had to strike "a balance between the protection of ill and older people, and the economy," he said in hisregular Facebook address on Sunday.

Image: A waitress closes up a pub, as the Czech government mandated restaurants and pubs to shut by 8:00 p.m. to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Prague, Czech Republic
A waitress closes up a pub as the Czech government mandated restaurants and pubs to shut by 8 p.m. to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Prague on Friday. David W Cerny / Reuters

Meanwhile, Russia reported its highest daily coronavirus cases ever on Sunday at 13,634 cases, prompting Moscow authorities to consider closing bars and nightclubs.

"The number of very serious patients is increasing, in intensive care, on a ventilator, and even the death rate is starting to rise again," Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin said last week. "The dynamics do not bode well."

Russia has the fourth-highest case toll in the world, behind the U.S., India and Brazil.

France saw more than 26,000 new cases on Saturday — its highest daily toll since the pandemic started as bars and restaurants shuttered in a number of cities there last week.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Monday he did not rule out local lockdowns as virus resurges.

"The French considered a little too quickly, despite the line of speeches which we adhered to, that this virus had disappeared. Unfortunately it was hidden, but still there," Castex told Franceinfo radio station. "We are in a second wave.”

In the U.K., where nearly 13,000 new cases were reported on Sunday, the British government is expected to announce a three-tier system of restrictions to simplify the rules and avoid confusion. The move would follow England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, saying the U.K. was at a “tipping point” akin to where the country was in March.

Britain has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with an official death toll of 42,825, up another 65 on Sunday.

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Meanwhile, Italy is preparing to face new nationwide restrictions, health minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday.

The country topped 5,000 new Covid-19 cases on Friday in a single day for the first time since March. Daily infections remained over 5,000 both on Saturday and Sunday.

Speranza said he proposed a ban on private parties, involving both children and adults. Italy made it mandatory to wear face masks outdoors nationwide last week.

Earlier on Sunday, foreign minister Luigi Di Maio ruled out another national lockdown, saying the Italian economy could not afford it.

Nancy Ing reported from Paris, France; Andy Eckardt reported from Mainz, Germany; Tatyana Chistikova, reported from Moscow, Russia.

Reuters contributed to this report.