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Europe prepares for possible 2nd wave of COVID-1931 July 2020

Several European countries taking fresh measures against rising infections across continent

European countries have started to prepare for a possible second wave of the novel coronavirus.

As one of the worst-affected countries in Europe, Italy extended its state of emergency on Wednesday until Oct. 15. from the previously declared July 31.

So far, some 35,129 people have lost their lives in the country, according to data from the US-based Johns Hopkins University, while 246,776 have contracted with the virus.

Fears have also mounted again in Spain, another European nation hit hard by the pandemic, as the number of infections continues to rise every day. After the state of emergency came to an end in the country in late June, the authority to handle the pandemic shifted from the central government to regional officials.

Though nearly half of the new cases detected in Spain have been in Catalonia, a court in the region suspended a resolution that ordered the closure of gyms and movie theaters. But as Catalonia lifted measures on Wednesday, other regions of Spain announced new ones.

The premier of Asturias, one of the least-affected regions, announced that nightclubs would have to close at 2.00 a.m. (1200GMT). The city of Zaragoza, one of the worst-affected, announced that playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment would be off-limits.

President of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, on Tuesday said social gatherings would be reduced to 10 people both in public and private meetings and that masks would be mandatory in indoor and outdoor public spaces, including outdoor terraces.

A heated discussion has also flared between the UK and Spain over Britain's decision to quarantine arrivals from Spain.

Last week, the UK changed its travel advisory for all of Spain and said non-essential travel to the country should be avoided in response to surging numbers of COVID-19 cases in some regions.

It also removed Spain from its list of countries from which arrivals would be exempt from two weeks of quarantine upon entry.

Spanish premier Pedro Sanchez said the decision was "disproportionate."

After a rise in the infections in the second half of July, Greece also made wearing masks in public mandatory.

Health authorities reported 57 more infections with novel coronavirus on Wednesday, 10 were said to be imported cases which were detected at the country’s entry points.

Belgium also took measures to contain COVID-19 infections in the country by applying further restrictions on public life.

As of Monday, households were asked to reduce their social bubble -- the people they frequently visit -- from 15 to five.

Only 10 people can participate in wedding receptions and other private family events.

Until the end of August, public outdoor events need to downsize to 200 people from 400, while the number was reduced to 100 from 200 for indoor occasions.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Wednesday that France was not suffering from a second wave but added that people needed to learn to live with the virus for a long time and adjust their lifestyles accordingly.

"The pandemic is continuing. Some people do not respect it. We must not let down our guard," cautioned Veran.

France reported 1,392 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily tally in a month. Some 30,108 people lost their lives to COVID-19 and more than 209,000 people contracted the virus.

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