The United States reported record new coronavirus cases for the third day in a row, as global infections surged past 49 million and Europe has become the new pandemic epicenter, with more than 300,000 deaths.
More than 127,000 new infections were reported in the US on Friday, the third straight day of record cases,
The infection figures came as President Donald Trump, who survived a bout of Covid-19 in October and has been widely criticized over his handling of the crisis, trailed his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the ongoing presidential vote count.
US cases are fast approaching 10 million, with more than 236,000 deaths, and the pandemic has hammered the world’s biggest economy, leaving millions jobless.
Across the Atlantic, Greece became the latest European nation to enter lockdown Saturday with the continent reeling from a second, relentless coronavirus wave.
Under the measures, which came into force at 6am (0400 GMT), Greeks can only leave their homes if they make an official request via mobile phone and then receive authorization. Only “essential shops” including supermarkets and pharmacies can stay open.
The measures follow the imposition of restrictions in Italy, France, Ireland and Britain, while Switzerland is also being hit hard by the virus.
Poland will also impose fresh measures Saturday, closing most stores in shopping centers, with some exceptions such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hair salons. The government is also closing cinemas, theatres, galleries and other cultural institutions and making hotels available for business travelers only.
Governments are also exploring mass testing as a way to curb the pandemic.
In England, Liverpool on Friday began the country’s first city-wide coronavirus testing program. All 500,000 residents will be offered repeat tests, even if asymptomatic, under a pilot scheme that could be rolled out nationwide if successful.
With populations growing increasingly weary of lockdowns, protests have broken out in some countries. Demonstrators and the police have clashed in parts of Italy and the Czech Republic in recent weeks.
Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo – the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus crisis earlier this year – said “there is more tiredness and more distrust around” than during the first lockdown, after people protested outside his home.
Ahead of the Greece lockdown, people rushed to get a haircut even though hairdressers and salons are allowed to open for two more days.
Athens hairdresser Apostolos Gelbas said he was struggling to find the time to serve all his clients: “It seems that this was one of the main things that the people missed during the first lockdown.”