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Coronavirus digest: New restrictions in Europe as cases soar

European nations are trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with tougher measures across the continent. New York City sent elementary schoolers back to class to test if its school system was ready.

Spain, Poland, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all enacted new restrictions on Wednesday as case numbers surged across the continent.

The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia and Romania all saw record numbers of daily infections. Cases have also been alarmingly high in other countries, with France again recording more than 10,000 cases.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel made an impassioned appeal for patience and discipline as numbers increased. Merkel said Germany risks undoing the gains it has made, asking citizens to care for one and other, and calling for vigilance on hygiene measures such as social-distancing and mask-wearing.

“We risk everything that we have achieved in the past few months,” Merkel said in a speech to the German parliament. 

Europe

Germany reported 1,798 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, a tally from the public health body Robert Koch Institute showed. The death toll rose by 17 in the past 24 hours. 

The German federal statistics office, Destatis, meanwhile, said inflation fell below zero in Germany for the second time this year. Inflation dropped to minus 0.2% in September, two months after inflation was minus 0.1%. Destatis said the negative inflation rate was attributable to several things, including a reduction in value-added tax (VAT) which was introduced in July to slow the recession brought on by the pandemic.

Read more: Germany: Angela Merkel unveils new coronavirus measures

Merkel has pledged a further €100 million to help developing countries procure future vaccines for the coronavirus. It came as the UN reinvigorated its fundraising drive for a common vaccine fund.

Russia: President Vladimir Putin said he intends to take the country’s newly developed coronavirus vaccine before visiting his counterpart in South Korea, according to Russian state news agency TASS. The Kremlin did not say when the visit would occur. South Korean state news agency Yonhap said Putin would visit after the virus situation has further stabilized.

UK: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the country must be prepared for more “sacrifices,” but did not further tighten social-distancing rules. He said the UK must maintain its policy of restricting social gatherings and imposing local lockdowns in areas with high infection rates. 

In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte “urgently” advised people to wear masks while indoors in public places. More than 19,000 people in the Netherlands tested positive in the last week, up from nearly 13,500 a week earlier.

Spain: New restrictions have been announced for Madrid, with residents set to be barre

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