European countries introduce raft of new measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19

Global coronavirus cases cross 39.94 million, death toll at 1,112,131

In Paris and eight other French cities, restaurants, bars, cinemas and other establishments were being forced to close no later than 9 p.m. to try to reduce contact among people.
In Paris and eight other French cities, restaurants, bars, cinemas and other establishments were being forced to close no later than 9 p.m. to try to reduce contact among people.

LONDON — More than 39.94 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,112,131 have died, according to a Reuters tally published on Monday.

With 219,355 deaths and around 8.1 million confirmed cases, the United States tops the list of 20 countries with the highest recorded infections and deaths in the world, followed by India, Brazil and Russia.

The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic continues to pick up. It took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million and the 44 days between 10 and 20 million.

Russia's daily tally of coronavirus cases surged to a new record high of 15,982 on Monday, including 5,376 in the capital Moscow, pushing the national case total to 1,415,316 since the pandemic began. Authorities also reported 179 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 24,366.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

The US recorded 57.519 new coronavirus cases and 711 new deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University. The tally showed that the confirmed cases nationwide reached 8,106,384 and at least 219,286 deaths.

This comes as 29 states are recording a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past week, while only two states, Missouri and Vermont, are reporting a decrease.

Indian health authorities announced on Monday that 579 people died due to COVID-19 and 55,722 positive cases were reported from across the country in the last 24 hours. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said death toll due to coronavirus rose to 114,610 while total number of positive cases mounted to 7,550, 273.

The Health Ministry said 6,663,608 people recovered from the pandemic as it spread to 35 Indian states. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are the worst hit Indian states.

The central government issued new guidelines for the fifth phase of unlock allowing more relaxations in movements and general activities. However, restrictions imposed on containment zones will remain effective.

The Health Ministry of France reported 29,837 COVID-19 cases and 85 related deaths in the past 24 hours. The total number of people who have caught the respiratory illness now stands at 897,034, while fatalities reached to 33,477.

In Paris and eight other French cities, restaurants, bars, cinemas and other establishments were being forced to close no later than 9 p.m. to try to reduce contact among people. The country is deploying 12,000 extra police officers to enforce the new rules.

Many restaurant owners have bristled at the order. An earlier months-long lockdown devastated the sector.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a raft of new measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 on Sunday, joining a host of other European leaders in declaring new measures as countries battle a second wave.

Conte declared, “we cannot waste time” as he announced the new measures. Restaurants will have to display their maximum capacity outside, and close doors by midnight, while bars will have to close at 6 p.m. if they don’t have table service.

Private sector companies were encouraged to follow the public sector in increasing the number of employees working from home, while local festivals will be banned along with amateur sports.

Italy saw more than 10,000 new daily cases on Friday for the first time, followed by 10,935 on Saturday and 11,705 on Sunday. It is just the latest European country to announce new restrictions over the weekend.

The wearing of masks will be compulsory from Monday in closed public places throughout Switzerland, the federal government announced on Sunday. "The sharp increase in the number of contaminations in recent days is worrying," the Federal Council said in a statement.

Other measures incoming are that gatherings of more than 15 people in public spaces will be banned and that private demonstrations of more than 15 people will also be regulated, while working from home has been recommended.

In Britain, a three-tier regional approach to battle the pandemic introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into effect, with each level bringing progressively tighter restrictions.

On Saturday, tier-2 cities like London and York were subject to a ban on socializing with people from other households indoors, while the county of Lancashire joined Liverpool in tier-3 with the tightest restrictions.

In Northern Ireland a lockdown lasting four weeks came into force on Friday. All pubs and restaurants must close except for takeaway services, and schools will close for two weeks for an extended half-term holiday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that intensive care units in a number of European cities could reach maximum capacity in the coming weeks if the number of infections doesn't slow.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg joined the list of top politicians who have tested positive for the virus, and was quarantined, although he showed no symptoms, his office told Austria's APA news agency.

The Vatican, meanwhile, said someone who lives in the same hotel as Pope Francis tested positive for the virus, adding to the 11 cases of COVID-19 among the Swiss Guards who protect him.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the country's head of state, was quarantined while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test after a bodyguard was infected, his office said.

Germany, which was widely lauded for rapidly slowing the spread of the virus when the pandemic first broke out, has seen rapidly climbing numbers in recent days. On Saturday, the country's disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 7,830 cases overnight, a new record.

Like most countries, Germany has been grappling with how to keep schools and businesses open while trying to prevent people from coming into close contact with one another. Germany has registered a total of 356,387 coronavirus cases and a relatively low 9,767 deaths.

In neighboring Czech Republic, the number of new infections surpassed 10,000 for the first time, surging to 11,105 on Friday, the Health Ministry said. The country has now registered a total of 160,112 cases, including 1,283 deaths.

Despite new restrictive measures to slow the surge, Health Minister Roman Prymula said he still expects a rise in those testing positive for about two weeks.

Next door, Slovakia said it was acquiring 13 million rapid antigen tests - enough to test each member of the population twice - and would establish 6,000 testing sites.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic said testing will take place over the next two weekends, starting with the three or four hardest-hit counties. It was not immediately clear whether tests would be mandatory. — SPA/Euronews