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Hospitals fill up fast as EU feels pain of second peak

HOSPITAL intensive care units across Europe are filling up with coronavirus patients as a second wave surges.

A spike in infections is being reported across the continent, including in France and Italy — two of the world’s worst-affected nations — plus Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Almost half of all intensive care patients in Paris are Covid-19 sufferers, health officials revealed yesterday. And while Britain has reported at least 12,000 new cases a day over the past week, France is seeing around 18,000 a day — a rate of 116 per 100,000 people.

Local lockdowns are in place, with two-thirds of the country under the highest ‘red’ alert restrictions — including Paris, where bars have been told to close. Face masks are also compulsory indoors in the French capital and in eight other hard-hit cities. The limit of gathering sizes ranges from ten to 30.

Prime minister Jean Castex yesterday warned further restrictions could follow, but said a nationwide lockdown ‘must be avoided’. France, which has a Covid death toll of 32,730, saw 43,000 infections over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is now experiencing Europe’s fastest-growing infection rate, with 30 per cent of tests positive. On Sunday it recorded 3,104 new cases — 69 per cent up from 1,840 a week earlier.

Germany, where the death toll is less than 10,000, is seeing nearly 5,000 new cases a day and has imposed travel bans in badly affected areas.

Belgian authorities warn 10,000 people a day could be catching the virus by the end of this week. There was an average of 4,145 cases daily last week.

Italy is facing 5,000 new cases daily for the first time since March, while Spain is seeing around 6,000.

In Hungary, the number of Covid patients in hospital rose by 166 in 24 hours to 1,418 — the highest since the pandemic began.

CHINA plans to test the entire population of the eastern city of Qingdao — more than 9million people — for coronavirus after discovering 12 new infections. The cases were all linked to a hospital where infected travellers from overseas have been treated in an isolated area. China has recorded 85,578 Covid-19 cases and 4,634 deaths but no domestically transmitted infections since August.