More than 10mn cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in Europe since it first hit the continent at the beginning of the year, according to an AFP tally based on health authority figures at 1630 GMT.
The coronavirus causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
The region, with 52 countries, is now the third most-affected in the world, after Latin America and the Caribbean with 11.2mn cases, and Asia with 10.5mn.
In Spain, police deployed yesterday at Madrid’s airport and train stations to ensure that people respected an inter-regional lockdown to reduce holiday weekend travel and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Most of Spain’s 17 regions have announced some form of border closures this week after the government declared a state of emergency on Sunday, giving them the legal tools to close their borders to anyone moving without just cause.
At Madrid’s Barajas airport, police controlled terminal entrances and asked travellers to explain the reason for their trips, images from La Sexta television showed.
In Catalonia, where residents will be unable to leave towns and cities over the weekend, police images showed officers checking drivers on the main roads out of Barcelona.
Despite the many restrictions imposed in Spain since July, when the number of cases began rising again, infections have spiralled with the virus claiming more than 35,000 lives and infecting more than 1.1mn people.
Experts say the regional lockdowns are a last-ditch effort to head off tougher measures such as a new one nationwide, which the government has repeatedly said it wants to avoid.
“The state of emergency … does not envisage a new stay-at-home order. And we think that with these measures, it won’t be necessary,” Health Minister Salvador Illa has stated.
Meanwhile, Italy reported a record number of new coronavirus cases yesterday, with more than 31,000 people testing positive in a 24-hour period.
The latest health ministry figures fuelled a national debate over whether Italy should further tighten measures to slow down the virus, despite bringing in new rules just days ago.
“Over 31,000 cases and 199 deaths. I ask you one question: what are you waiting for?” virologist Roberto Burioni said on Twitter as he pushed for tighter curbs.
Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the pandemic in March, reported 31,084 new cases yesterday, raising the total to over 325,000.
Czech Republic lawmakers voted yesterday to extend a state of emergency until November 20 as the country saw the first signs of a slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus.
The government declared a 30-day state of emergency on October 5 to make decision-making easier at the time of crisis, and it needed the parliament’s consent to extend it.
The Czech Republic ranks second in the EU in new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants and is top for new deaths, according to data compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
As of yesterday morning, the EU member of 10.7mn people had more than 310,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 2,862 deaths.
Meanwhile, checkpoints have been set up across Portugal to stop unauthorised travel during a five-day movement ban which began yesterday to contain the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases reached a record high.
Movement between Portugal’s more than 300 municipalities is prohibited until November 3 to reduce risk of virus transmission during the All Saints national holiday but there are exceptions, including for those travelling to and from work.
Portugal, with just over 10mn people, has recorded a comparatively low 137,272 cases and 2,468 deaths but it reached 4,656 cases yesterday, the highest daily figure since the pandemic started.
Iceland has ordered nightspots closed and limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people to halt rising novel coronavirus cases.
The sub-arctic island country also ordered restaurants to shut by 9pm and banned all indoor and outdoor sporting activities except for international matches.
The new rules, which will also allow schools to remain open, will take effect starting today and remain in force until November 17.
Authorities in Moscow were preparing for mass vaccinations against Covid-19 and Russia’s daily tally of infections rose past 18,000 to a record high amid a shortage of doctors across the country, the Kremlin said yesterday.
Moscow residents who want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 may be able to do so as early as next month if large volumes of doses are supplied by then, Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said.
The capital is creating a large network of specialised vaccination rooms with 2,500 high-risk people – primarily doctors and teachers – having already been vaccinated, Russian news agencies cited her as saying.
Coronavirus infections rose by 9,207 and hospitalisations by 279, data from Switzerland’s health authorities showed yesterday, as the country’s healthcare and contract tracing systems struggled to manage a second wave of Covid-19 cases.
Switzerland has one of the highest infection rates in Europe, prompting Berne to introduce new nation-wide measures aimed at slowing virus transmission.
And the number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands rose by more than 11,000 over the past 24 hours to a new record, data released by the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) showed.
The RIVM said the number of confirmed new cases of Covid-19 was 11,119, compared to a high of 10,343 on October 26.
The number is being closely watched by the Dutch government, which is weighing tighter curbs.
Austria’s daily coronavirus infections jumped by more than a quarter to a new record yesterday, nearing the level at which the government says hospitals will be stretched beyond capacity, as it works on new restrictions to stem the surge.
The official tally of 5,627 was a jump from Thursday’s 4,453, itself a record high, suggesting the conservative-led government is running out of time to bring the numbers under control.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Thursday that hospitals would be stretched beyond capacity at around 6,000 daily infections.
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