The British government is facing calls for another national lockdown and France will reimpose a state of health emergency from Saturday, as Europe faced a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, with global cases crossing 38 million.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted tighter steps including requiring masks in more places and limiting numbers of people gathering for private events, according to a draft policy paper. The proposals would see the restrictions kick in once an area records 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days. Previously, Germany had used a yardstick of 50 new infections per 100,000.
In the UK, the opposition Labour and experts on Wednesday called for another lockdown following advice that the new three-tier alert system may not effectively suppress the recent surge in new Covid-19 cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted the calls after Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded the second lockdown. The PM is facing criticism for ignoring advice from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies as early as September 21 for a short “circuit-breaker”. As the three-tier system came into effect in England on Wednesday, Northern Ireland announced a partial lockdown.
Bars and restaurants will close across Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region for the next 15 days as the country tackles one of the highest rates of infection in the European Union, with nearly 900,000 infections and more than 33,000 deaths.
Italy registered 7,332 new infections in 24 hours, its highest ever daily tally since the pandemic began, and steeply up from 5,901 on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Czech schools and bars were shut, while Dutch restaurants were closing.
Meanwhile, Russia has granted regulatory approval to a second Covid-19 vaccine, President Vladimir Putin said.
WHO: Virus could reverse progress in fighting TB
The pandemic threatens to reverse progress towards eliminating tuberculosis, until now the top infectious disease killer globally, the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday. “The pandemic threatens to unwind the gains made over recent years,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
(With inputs from Agencies)