Coronavirus deaths have nearly doubled in Italy today, and at least nine European nations have seen record numbers of new cases.
Financial markets gave way on Thursday as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland recorded their highest daily infection rates.
Because of the increased testing capacity, it is impossible to compare these numbers with the first wave in spring, but hospitalizations and deaths are increasing across the continent.
Italy recorded a further 83 deaths, an increase of almost double its 43 deaths on Wednesday, but still far fewer than at the height of the pandemic when it hit a daily high of more than 900 deaths.
Civil defense personnel are preparing beds for the field hospital for possible COVID-19 patients in Turin (Italy) on Thursday
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland all recorded their highest daily infection rates on Thursday
The death toll from the virus has also increased but is still well below its first wave peak as better tests reveal milder cases and better treatment improves survival rates
Coronavirus cases have increased across Europe and are now above the first wave peak in most countries. The Netherlands and the Czech Republic have emerged as the continent's new sources of infection, with Germany, Italy and barrier-free Sweden doing the best
The main German index, the DAX, fell well below two percent on Thursday
The Paris CAC 40 was shaken by today's developments on the continent
London's FTSE 100 index took a similar blow on Thursday amid rising coronavirus infections
Germany, which had a record 6,638 cases, reported 33 new deaths on Thursday, three times as many as a week ago, albeit still fewer than its European neighbors.
France has reported an average of more than 100 deaths per day this week, the UK 110 and Spain 160.
The major European stock indices fell well below 2 percent because of fears of what the new locks would bring.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 German governors responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions agreed on Wednesday evening to tighten the rules on wearing masks, close bars early and limit the number of people who can can congregate in areas with high infection rates. But these decisions "will probably not be enough," said Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, to ARD television.
"We have to stop this exponential increase, the faster the better," said Merkel, noting that neighboring European countries have to take "very drastic measures".
This week the Netherlands closed bars and restaurants and the Czech Republic closed schools.
The Czech Ministry of Health confirmed more than 9,500 new virus cases on Wednesday, more than 900 more than the previous record.
The government announced on Thursday that the military would set up a virus hospital at the Prague Exhibition Center.
Angela Merkel has announced new restrictions on places where infections are above 35 per 100,000 and tightened the rules for places above 50 infections per 100,000
The Czech Republic has the highest infection rates in Europe, with comparable numbers in the hardest hit regions of the UK, France and Spain
"We have to build additional capacities as soon as possible," said Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. & # 39; We don't have time. The prognosis is not good. & # 39;
The governor of the state of Bavaria said his region had received an application for treatment for Czech COVID-19 patients.
In France, where over 22,000 new infections were reported on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron has locked 18 million residents in nine regions, including Paris, from 9 p.m. on Saturday.
France will deploy 12,000 police officers to enforce the curfew and spend an additional € 1 billion ($ 1.2 billion) to help businesses affected by the new restrictions.
"Our compatriots thought this health crisis was behind us," said Prime Minister Jean Castex. "But we can't live normally again while the virus is here."
Daily cases in the Czech Republic hit a record 9,544 today after the country's relative success in the spring gave way to a massive second wave in the fall
The Czech Republic recorded 66 new deaths today and, unlike most parts of Western Europe, the daily death rate is higher than during the first wave of the pandemic
Just as Macron's government battles infection resurgence, French police raided the homes of a former prime minister, current and former health ministers and other senior officials on Thursday to investigate the government's pandemic.
It was triggered by dozens of complaints in the past few months, particularly due to the lack of masks and other devices.
Aurelien Rousseau, director of the Paris region health department, said almost half of the intensive care beds are now occupied by coronavirus patients and other hospital beds are filling quickly too.
"It's kind of a spring flood that affects everyone at the same time," said Rousseau. & # 39; We had a blind spot on our tracking policies. It was privacy, festive events. & # 39;
Poland posted a record of nearly 9,000 new cases on Thursday. Masks have been required outdoors since Saturday and the size of the gatherings has been strictly limited.
Portugal limited itself to limiting social gatherings to a maximum of five people, preparing to make outdoor masks compulsory and fines those who break the rules.
Even Sweden, which has taken a much-discussed approach to keeping large sections of society open, has raised the prospect of tighter restrictions.
"Too many don't stick to the rules," said Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. "If there is no correction here, we have to take stronger measures." He didn't elaborate on it.
In Germany, the outspoken Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder emphasized the importance of taking action now, arguing that "everything that comes later will cost more".
"I will even go so far as to say that Europe's prosperity is at stake," he said.
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