Countries across Europe are reimposing painful restrictions on public life as a surge in coronavirus infections heightens fears the pandemic is tightening its grip, bringing another public health emergency closer just as winter approaches.
In Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland, infections hit record daily highs on Thursday while France imposed evening curfews on its biggest cities and Londoners faced new limits on socialising indoors.
The resurgence of the virus is a huge setback for a continent that had largely succeeded in bringing infection rates down to manageable levels over the summer, after implementing tough lockdowns.
“Parts of Europe have lost control,” said Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at the Bernhard Nocht Institute in Hamburg. “Authorities are no longer able to influence the spread of the virus.”
Germany, which has so far weathered the pandemic better than its neighbours, reported 7,334 new cases on Friday — a new record. “The decisive challenge we face — not only in Germany but in the whole of Europe — is whether we can break the dynamic of the second wave and reach calmer waters,” said Peter Altmaier, economy minister.