WORLD Virus curbs tighten in Europe as global deaths top 1.3m

WORLD

Virus curbs tighten in Europe as global deaths top 1.3m

AFP

17:19, November 15, 2020

People wearing face masks talk on a street in Rome, Italy, Nov. 10, 2020. The COVID-19 cases in Italy exceeded one million on Wednesday, official statistics by the Health Ministry showed. Some 32,961 new cases were registered on a daily basis, which brought the country's total to 1,028,424 since the pandemic officially broke out here in late February. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

A swathe of new restrictions to curtail a second wave of coronavirus infections were announced or came into force from Austria to Greece, Italy to Portugal on Saturday as the global death toll climbed above 1.3 million.

More than 53 million have been infected worldwide by COVID-19, which is running rampant throughout America and Europe, forcing governments to take more drastic action despite the potential economic devastation.

Austria joined a growing trend announcing schools and non-essential shops would close from Tuesday, having imposed a partial lockdown two weeks ago.

"There are still many who say that infections don't happen at school, in shops or services," said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz.

"But the truth is the authorities can no longer trace 77 percent of new infections, which means they no longer know where contamination is happening," Kurtz said in a statement.

Greece, battling a saturated national health system, announced it would shut all schools after imposing a nationwide night curfew from Friday.

"Closing elementary schools was the last thing we wanted to do. This is a measure of how serious the situation is," Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said. Secondary schools had already been shuttered.

In Italy, the regions of Tuscany and Campania - of which Florence and Naples are the respective capitals - plunged into "red zones" of tough restrictions, which now cover 26 million of the 60 million population.

"There is no other way if we want to reduce the numbers of dead," Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, as the country's death toll rose by 544 to 44,683, one of Europe's worst.

Beyond Europe, Lebanon entered a new two-week lockdown, with hospitals in the crises-wracked country almost at capacity.

Bars in New York, the epicenter of the US' spring outbreak, were ordered to close at 10 pm from Friday. Schools could move to online only teaching as early as Monday.

The US, the country hardest hit by COVID-19, saw 188,858 more cases and 1,596 more deaths Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Several German cities saw protests against enforced mask-wearing, with police using water cannon to disperse nearly 1,000 people in Frankfurt.

France's Riviera resort of Nice saw 1,500 take to the streets to demand  more coherent restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease.

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