New York closes bars to curb virus resurgence as deaths top 1.3m

New York: A swathe of new restrictions to cut off a second wave of coronavirus infections came into force in European nations on Saturday after New York closed bars and the global death toll climbed above 1.3 million.

Infections have flared throughout America and Europe, with governments forced to take more drastic action despite the potential devastation of their economies.

Greece, battling a saturated national health system, has shut down all schools and imposed a nationwide night curfew from Friday.

The government announced the closure of primary schools, kindergartens and daycare centres, with secondary schools already closed and all lessons online since Monday.

In Italy, Naples plunged into the "red zone" of tough restrictions on a total of seven regions, or 26 million of the 60 million population.

The latest decree was signed late Friday with Health Minister Roberto Speranza saying "there is no other way if we want to reduce the numbers of dead".

The death toll in Italy rose to 44,139, one of Europe's highest, with 550 more dying in the previous 24 hours and 41,000 new cases.

Bars and clubs in the Big Apple, the epicentre of the US's spring outbreak, were ordered to close at 10 pm on Friday. The state governor warned schools could move to online only teaching as early as Monday.

The United States, the country hardest hit by COVID-19, meanwhile saw 188,858 more cases and 1,596 more deaths Friday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

New antivirus curbs also came into force in Ukraine on Saturday, with all non-essential businesses ordered to stay closed for the weekend.

Officials in Kiev pulled back from a nationwide lockdown, admitting an already-battered economy could not stand it.

And Lebanon entered a new two-week lockdown after infections crossed the 100,000 mark, with hospitals in the crises-wracked country almost at capacity.

Lifting the gloom, the European Medicines Agency added to growing hopes that an effective vaccine is coming soon, saying the EU body expected to give a favourable opinion on a vaccine by the end of the year. That would allow distribution from January. – AFP