Fresh restrictions as Covid cases climb in parts of Europe

(Update 1: adds latest figures from Italy)

Madrid Desk, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- Covid-19 infection rates are on the rise in several European nations, prompting fresh restrictions amid a relatively slow vaccination rollout and the rapid spread of new variants.

German health authorities believe infection rates could return to maximum levels after the Easter period, which would require a pause in the country’s tentative relaxation of restrictions.

The Robert Koch Institute, the federal epidemiological department, said the cumulative seven-day infection rate had risen to 79 per 100,000 people from 65.

Over 10,700 new Covid-19 cases were detected in the last 24 hours, a total of 2,600 more compared to last Sunday.

The RKI suggested the number of daily infections could hit 30,000 after Easter.

France on Saturday registered just under 30,000 new coronavirus cases across the country and the government said the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care had returned to levels not seen since November last year.

Intensive care unit capacity was averaging around 80% across the country but it was more acute around Paris, where 96% of ICU beds are filled.

Paris authorities are mulling local lockdown measures to stem the spread of the virus.

The French education minister Michel Blanquer on Sunday told Le Parisien newspaper said he wanted to keep schools open despite the increase in cases and hoped the vaccination campaign for teachers could begin in April.

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