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Europe tightens controls again amid second wave of COVID-19

Europe tightens controls again amid second wave of COVID-19
A worker in a face mask cleans a cafe in London on Thursday. The British government announced new lockdown measures in the northeastern part of the country. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Several European countries have imposed or are planning to impose new coronavirus restrictions this week after seeing spikes in new cases Thursday.

The British government on Thursday revealed new restrictions on gatherings indoors in several northern municipalities, including the port city of Liverpool. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the country's second peak of COVID-19 cases is "highly localized" and "spreading fast."

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The government banned mixing of people among different households indoors, and recommended against attending sporting events, visiting care homes and non-essential travel.

"And the more people follow the rules and reduce their social contact, the quicker we can get Liverpool, and the northeast, back on their feet," Hancock said in a speech to Parliament.

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He said there were 7,108 new cases Wednesday in Britain, its second-highest number since the start of the pandemic. The highest figure, 7,143, came Tuesday as the country enters a second wave of the virus.

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There was an 89% increase in the number of new daily cases over the past two weeks, bringing the country's overall number of cases to 460,000, according to The New York Times' tracker.

Britain reported 71 new deaths Wednesday, a 212% increase over the past week. More than 42,000 people have died in the country from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

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Britain isn't alone as several European countries begin seeing evidence of a second wave of infection as the fall season opens.

Spain reported 11,016 new cases Wednesday, a 7% increase over the past two weeks, and 177 new deaths, a 23% increase. There have been more than 769,000 confirmed cases and nearly 32,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The country's current seven-day average of new cases -- about 10,000 -- surpasses its spring peak of about 8,000.

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Madrid has the highest number of new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days in Spain at 430. Navarra has the next-highest concentration of cases at 351.

Madrid reported 1,586 new cases Wednesday and 28,778 new cases in the past week.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa on Wednesday announced new lockdown measures for the capital city in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. The lockdown prevents residents from travel except for work, school or health reasons; limits gatherings to six people; and requires stores, bars and restaurants to maintain 50% capacity and close by 10 p.m.

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While Germany is also experiencing a second surge of cases since a summertime lull, the country is nowhere near hitting its springtime high.

There were 4,301 new cases reported Wednesday, a 30% increase over the past 14 days, and 29 deaths, a 140% increase. Germany's daily high was nearly 6,300 in March, according to The New York Times.

Still, Chancellor Angela Merkel implemented new lockdown measures Tuesday, including limiting gatherings to 50 people or fewer, and fining people for giving fake contact tracing data.

Merkel, speaking during a news conference, warned that if Germany didn't strictly abide by the restrictions, the country could see daily cases reaching nearly 20,000 in the winter.

"I am sure life as we know it will return, but now we have to be reasonable," she said. "We know that a more difficult time is coming, fall and winter."

French Health Minister Olivier Véran on Thursday warned that Paris will likely reach a "maximum" alert level by Monday if coronavirus cases don't recede.

France is reporting new daily cases at levels twice as high as it had in the spring. The country had 12,845 new cases Thursday, a 36% increase over the past two weeks, and 63 deaths, a 98% increase.

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Overall, the country has had 577,000 cases and 32,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Véran floated the idea of shuttering bars and restaurants in the capital city.

Worldwide, roughly 316,000 new cases were reported Wednesday with 6,200 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 34 million people have been sickened and 1 million killed.

World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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