Europe passed a new bleak milestone after reporting more than 11 million coronavirus cases amid growing warnings that Europe risks being hit with further waves of infections next year if no vaccine is found, as the continent scrambles to cope with a second deadly spike in COVID-19 cases.
Nations reintroduced restrictions to get ahead of a virus that has caused more than 1.2 million deaths around the globe, over 285,000 of them in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins University, and is straining health care systems. New measures took effect Tuesday in Austria, Greece and Sweden, following a partial shutdown imposed in Germany Monday and tighter rules in Italy, France, Kosovo and Croatia. England faces a near-total lockdown from Thursday, although schools and universities will stay open. In France, COVID-19 patients now occupy more than 73% of the country's intensive care units (ICUs), a rapidly rising share that prompted the government this week to impose the monthlong lockdown that shut all nonessential businesses. The stringent new measures have caused exasperation and anger across the continent.
Russia on Wednesday reported a new single-day record of 19,768 coronavirus cases and 389 deaths. According to the country's emergency task force, the total number of cases in the country has reached 1.69 million, while the death toll rose to 29,217.
In eastern Europe, Bulgaria reported 4,041 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, its highest one-day tally since the pandemic started, official health data showed on Wednesday. Ukraine registered a record 9,524 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Wednesday, a day after its minister described the situation in the country as verging on catastrophic. Ukraine's security council said the number of coronavirus-related deaths had jumped to a record 199 from a previous daily high of 173 registered last month. The daily tally of coronavirus infections spiked in late September and remained consistently high throughout October, prompting the government to extend lockdown measures until the end of this year.
Poland also reported a record 24,692 new coronavirus infections and 373 deaths on Wednesday, the health ministry said, amid expectations that the government would announce more restrictions to curb the pandemic.
The health ministry said that, as of Wednesday, COVID-19 patients occupied 18,654 hospital beds and were using 1,625 ventilators, out of available 27,143 and 2,094 respectively.
Hungary's cases in recent weeks have surged well past the levels recorded in the spring, with more Hungarians dying in October than in the previous four months put together. Hungary introduced a state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew to combat a coronavirus surge that threatens to test hospital capacity. Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto tested positive for the coronavirus, state news agency MTI reported on Wednesday, adding that the minister has no symptoms.
The Czech Republic has one of the highest infection rates in Europe. The government is sending thousands of medical students to hospitals and other students to testing areas. The Czech Republic reported 12,088 new coronavirus cases for Nov. 3 and 259 new deaths, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday.