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Coronavirus cases hitting new levels in Italy; protesters attack police in Prague

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A woman wearing a sanitary mask walks in downtown Milan, Italy, on Saturday. Italy’s northern Lombardy region, where the European outbreak began in late February, has taken new measures to contain rebounding coronavirus infections, limiting bar service and alcohol sales, banning contact sports and closing bingo parlors.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A woman wearing a sanitary mask walks in downtown Milan, Italy, on Saturday. Italy’s northern Lombardy region, where the European outbreak began in late February, has taken new measures to contain rebounding coronavirus infections, limiting bar service and alcohol sales, banning contact sports and closing bingo parlors.

MILAN >> The number of confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in Italy continued to rise to new records today, hitting 11,705 in the last 24 hours.

Many more tests are being carried out than during the March-April peak, when only the very ill were tested, but doctors have warned that the virus again is infecting more vulnerable patients and hospitals are increasingly under stress.

A total of 750 patients were being treated in intensive care Sunday, up 45 from a day earlier, while more than 7,000 people were hospitalized, according to Health Ministry statistics.

Pressure was especially acute in Lombardy, where 110 ICU beds were filled and more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. Italy has recorded a total of 36.543 deaths in the pandemic, 69 in the last 24 hours.

The government was expected to announce additional restrictions, having already made masks mandatory outdoors, banned casual pick-up sports and mandating closure of bars and restaurants at midnight in a bid to stop the contagion.

ELESEWHERE IN Europe, Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them after a rally today in Prague against government restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

Police rescue services said at least 20 injured in the clashes, which erupted after a couple thousand people, including soccer and ice hockey fans, rallied at Old Town Square to condemn the restrictions that include the ban of sports competitions and closure of bars and restaurants.

Public gatherings of more than six are also banned but up to 500 people are allowed to demonstrate if they are divided into separated groups of 20 and wear face masks.

Many of the demonstrators had no face coverings. After police said their number surpassed 500, the organizers ended the rally.

But some protesters remained and the square, throwing flares, beer bottles, stones and various other objects at riot police.

The Czech Republic has been facing a record surge in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, making it one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.

SWITZERLAND IS introducing new restrictions across the country to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has been growing at a record pace in recent days.

At a special meeting Sunday, the government decided to broaden a mask mandate, saying “the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in the last few days is a cause for great concern.”

As of Monday, face and nose coverings will be required in all publicly accessible indoor areas, including all railway stations and airports, and at bus and tram stops. The rule also extends to schools, child-care facilities, shopping malls, libraries, places of worship and hotels, among other places.

Gatherings of more than 15 people are not permitted in public, and new regulations were put on private events of more than 15 people.

The number of new cases in the Alpine nation of 8.5 million people has been increasing rapidly recently, hitting a new daily record of 3,105 on Friday. Overall Switzerland has reported 74,422 infections and 1,823 deaths.

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