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A bar owner closes up early in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Berlin nightlife shuts early as coronavirus cases spike in Europe, top 10 million in Latin America

  • Governments across the globe are struggling to keep up with a sharp rise in infections and manage growing public frustration over new restrictions
  • Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 360,000 deaths according to official figures, is the region worst hit in terms of fatalities
A coronavirus curfew has closed doors early on German capital Berlin’s legendary nightlife in a bid to limit surging infections, while in Latin America and the Caribbean the number of cases passed 10 million.

Bars and restaurants closed at 11pm on Saturday in Berlin under a partial curfew announced until October 31, with the capital following in the footsteps of financial hub Frankfurt where a curfew had already been imposed, but starting an hour earlier.

With more than 400 new cases daily in Berlin, the early shutdown also covers all shops except pharmacies and petrol stations in a bid to prevent sales of alcohol late at night.

“This is not the time to party,” said Berlin mayor Michael Muller in a message addressed to young people, who are driving new infections higher. “We can and we want to prevent another more severe confinement.”

A bar worker pours a beer at a bar in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district on Saturday. Photo: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had already warned on Friday that high-infection areas would be given 10 days to bring down cases or face tougher action, calling big cities the “arena” to keep the pandemic under control.

Police said “several thousand” people marched through Berlin on Saturday in a silent protest against restrictions. Protesters also rallied in Rome, Warsaw and London against mask-wearing requirements and virus curbs.

Governments across the globe are struggling to keep up with a sharp rise in infections and manage growing public frustration over new restrictions as the pandemic enters a second wave.

Since it was first detected in China late last year, the virus has killed more than 1 million worldwide, infected nearly 37 million and forced millions more out of work as the pandemic batters the global economy.
Commuters walk through the Luz railway station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday. Photo: Bloomberg

Latin America and the Caribbean marked 10 million cases on Saturday and with more than 360,000 deaths, the region is the worst hit in terms of fatalities, according to official figures.

Brazil’s virus death toll passed 150,000 people on Saturday, according to health ministry figures, although the rate of new infections continues to slow in the South American country.
Russia, which has recorded the fourth highest number of infections according to official tallies, on Sunday reported a further 13,634 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, a new daily record that brought its nationwide tally to almost 1.3 million with 22,597 deaths.
Iran on Sunday announced its highest single-day death toll with 251 – taking the national toll to 28,544 – on the same day that two senior officials were confirmed infected and the nation’s currency hit a record low.
People wearing masks pass by restaurants in the centre of Lyon, central France, on Saturday. Photo: AP
In France, health authorities reported a record 27,000 new infections in a single day Saturday, although numbers in intensive care remained far short of peaks seen in spring.
Spiralling cases in France have led to fears that the government may need to impose local lockdowns in major cities, which would mimic measures already announced in Spain where the government has prevented people leaving the Madrid region.

Residents can only leave the Spanish capital for work, school or medical reasons as part of restrictions that have been denounced by the city’s right-wing authorities.

“We’ve always placed public health above all other considerations,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said during a visit to Portugal on Saturday, adding that Madrid needed “a strong response” to rising cases.

In Poland, authorities told people to wear face masks in all public spaces after coronavirus cases hit a record daily high of 4,280.
People protest against mandatory mask wearing in Warsaw on Saturday after the Polish government tightened restrictions. Photo: AFP

To the south, the Czech Republic faced the prospect of a new lockdown as the growth in Covid-19 cases set a fourth straight daily record, with the growth in infections the highest in Europe.

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was the latest high-profile figure to test positive for Covid-19. She was the first top Brussels official known to have been infected.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who himself spent time in hospital for the virus in April, was expected to outline a new three-tier lockdown system on Monday.

But new restrictions for the UK have often run into opposition as public frustration grows over curbs on social life, mask requirements and business shutdowns.

Police patrol as revellers enjoy a night out in the centre of Liverpool, north west England, on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Local leaders bristled at London’s plans, with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham saying that “we will not surrender our residents to hardship this Christmas or our businesses to failure”.

Also in Britain, the widely used Bacillus Calmette-Guérin tuberculosis vaccine, which induces a broad innate immune-system response and has been shown to protect against infection or severe illness with other respiratory pathogens, is set to be tested on frontline care workers for its effectiveness against Covid-19.

“We are seeking to establish whether the BCG vaccine could help protect people who are at risk of Covid-19. If it does, we could save lives by administering or topping up this readily available and cost-effective vaccination,” said Professor John Campbell of the University of Exeter Medical School.

The study is part of an existing Australian-led trial, which launched in April and also has arms in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested as a protection against Covid-19 in South Africa.

Additional reporting by Reuters