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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionMadrid is one of the hardest hit regions in Spain and has been subject to some of the toughest restrictions *: not ([hidden]): not (style) ~ *: not ([hidden]): not (style) {margin-top: 1rem;}]]>

Spain has declared a national state of emergency and imposed a night curfew to control a new surge in Covid-19 infections.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the curfew between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. would go into effect on Sunday.

As part of the emergency measures, local authorities can also ban travel between regions, said Sánchez.

He said he would ask parliament to extend the new rules, which were originally in place for 15 days, to six months.

Spain was hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year and imposed a much more restrictive lockdown – one of the toughest in the world.

However, like many other European regions, it has been hit by a second wave of infections.

Media signatureEurope’s streets are empty

In Italy, new restrictions were also announced on Sunday. The government said the steady increase in cases is putting a tremendous strain on the country’s health services.

What are Spain’s emergency measures?

Mr Sánchez said different regions had up to an hour of flexibility if they wanted to change the length of the curfew overnight.

He said restrictions on movement between districts were set by regional leaders and would likely depend on work and medical needs.

The announced new measures provide for a limitation of public and private gatherings of different households to a maximum of six people.

“The situation we are going through is extreme,” said Sánchez in a televised address on Sunday, adding: “It is the most serious in the last half century.”

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More than half of Spain’s 17 regions had called for stricter restrictions and the latest measures apply to all regions except the Canary Islands.

The same emergency level was introduced during the first wave of the pandemic in April.

Spain has had a million cases since it began and nearly 35,000 people have died.

What is Italy doing to contain infections?

Italy closes cinemas, swimming pools and gyms from Monday.

Bars, restaurants and ice cream parlors will have to close by 6:00 p.m., but shops and most businesses will continue to operate.

Italy’s measures have been agreed between Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the regional leaders.

“We believe that we will suffer a little this month, but if we grit our teeth with these restrictions we can breathe again in December,” Conte said at a press conference on Sunday.

The Prime Minister has said he does not want to repeat the national lockdown imposed during the first wave in March and April over economic damage.

As part of the new measures, the majority of secondary education will be conducted online rather than in the classroom.

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionDemonstrations against Covid measures took place in Naples and here in Rome

The Italian move comes amid demonstrations in Naples and then Rome against stricter coronavirus measures, including curfews, announced last week.

More than 19,600 cases were recorded daily in Italy on Saturday. The number of deaths was 151.

What’s the latest from other European countries?

Covid case numbers, hospital admissions and deaths have increased across Europe.

According to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Sunday marked the third day in a row that a record high was recorded in reported infections – 465,319 cases were confirmed.

Some of the latest developments across Europe are:

  • Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov confirmed in a Facebook post on Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid-19. He said he had mild symptoms and was self-isolating
  • In the Czech Republic, where new bans went into effect this weekend, 12,472 new Covid cases were reported on Saturday – the country’s highest daily record for a weekend day
  • The new confirmed cases in the Netherlands have increased by 10,203 in the past 24 hours. This is despite new measures – including bars and restaurants closings – that were imposed this month
  • The total number of reported cases in Russia has now exceeded 1.5 million – but the mayor of the worst hit city, Moscow, said that “there is still growth … it is slower”.
  • In Germany, where the number of cases has risen sharply in recent weeks, the building of the state’s public health authority – the Robert Koch Institute – was destroyed. At least one window was broken when several suspects reportedly tried to start a fire. Frankfurt is now the newest city to cancel its traditional Christmas market
  • Hospitals in the Swiss city of Geneva are calling on medically trained volunteers and retired workers to take care of the expected record number of Covid patients in the coming days

Media signatureGavin Lee reports from the epicenter of Europe’s second wave in Belgium

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