France, Spain, Greece record coronavirus cases rise

Fresh restrictions were imposed with more to follow in case virus resurgence continues

Several European countries recorded in the last 24 hours serious rise in coronavirus cases, with authorities ready to impose new restrictions to curb the spike, news wires reported. High level of new cases was seen in France, Spain and Greece among others.

With 1,695 new cases within 24 hours France recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus infections in more than two months. The city of Toulouse introduced new rules requiring face masks in its busiest streets, with Paris and a number of other cities expected to follow suit. With more than 30,000 deaths, France has the third-highest death toll in Europe, behind the UK and Italy.

The French government's top scientific body said of the crisis in its country: “The situation is precarious. We could at any moment tip into a scenario that is less under control, like in Spain. It is highly likely that we will experience a second epidemic wave this autumn or winter.” French authorities have strengthened public hygiene rules, with cities such as Lille, Nice and Toulouse ordering people to wear masks in busy pedestrian streets.

On Wednesday, Spain reported its highest number of new cases since it began easing lockdown restrictions in June, with 1,772 infections. It marked the biggest jump in cases since a national lockdown was lifted in June. Health clinics are trying to screen and isolate new infections, which are taking place mostly among the young, who in Spain and countries across the world are often ignoring social distancing.

The resurgence has prompted some regions to impose fresh restrictions on movement, making masks obligatory at all times outside the home and closing nightclubs again due to links to outbreaks. Navarra, Aragon and Catalonia have registered more than 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a 14-day period.

The news came as Switzerland became the latest country to announce quarantine measures for travellers arriving from Spain, although its rules do not apply to travellers returning from the Canary and Balearic islands. Last month, the UK removed Spain from its list of countries exempt from quarantine, meaning that people coming from any part of Spain must self-isolate for 14 days.

In Germany, a doctors' union said it was already contending with a second wave amid a disregard for social-distancing guidelines that risked squandering the nation's early success in containing the virus. Meanwhile, German authorities will now require all travellers returning from the Belgian city of Antwerp to quarantine, after the German disease control agency declared the city “a risk zone”.

And Greece recorded its highest single-day increase in cases in weeks, with 124 new infections in the last 24 hours, despite having fared relatively well in spring. PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Greeks they would need to adhere to strict restrictions, and warned against "complacency".

Athens and the northern port of Thessaloniki held the lion's share of the new cases at 22 each, but another 16 areas were also affected, indicating that the virus is spreading to more parts of the country. Evros was hit hard with 18 cases, all of which have been linked to a recent wedding in the town of Alexandroupoli.

Two cases in Rhodes and five out of six in the region of Magnisia have also been linked to big wedding parties, while eight cases in Kavala have been traced to an outbreak at a meat packing firm and six of eight cases in Larissa to medics at the city's general hospital, which treats coronavirus patients.

On Thursday Poland reported a record number of coronavirus infections for the fifth time since last week, the health ministry said, as it announced renewed local restrictions to counter the spike in cases. The new record of 726 new cases, the first time daily cases have topped 700, came as the health ministry said restrictions would return in 19 counties worst affected by the pandemic.

These would include obligatory wearing of masks and only using half the seats on public transport, Deputy Health Minister Janusz Cieszynski told a news conference. “We will also limit the number of people who will be able to attend weddings, funerals and other celebrations,” he said.

Silesia in the south had the largest number of new infections with 137. The region has been battling an outbreak among miners and the rapid spread of infections led to a temporary reduction of coal output in June. Poland has reported a total of 49,515 coronavirus cases and 1,774 deaths, according to the ministry.

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