Europe imposes fresh curbs as global virus cases top 30 million

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Large parts of Europe yesterday geared up for broad new restrictions to stop the coronavirus, after infections worldwide topped 30 million and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of “alarming rates of transmission”.

Britain is limiting gatherings and France is set to roll out new curbs for major cities as governments across the continent battle fresh spikes of the disease. Over 943,000 people have now died from Covid-19 since it first emerged in China late last year according to an AFP tally, with Europe accounting for over 200,000.

WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said a surge seen this month “should serve as a wake-up call” after the continent recorded 54,000 infections in a single day last week – a new record.

“Although the numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,” Kluge told an online news conference from Copenhagen.

The Spanish capital of Madrid said it had been overwhelmed by the virus and called for “decisive” action from the central government, which is set to unveil a raft of new restrictions. Madrid officials warned that the region’s healthcare system was coming under increasing pressure.