: WHO warns of ‘serious situation unfolding’ in Europe as COVID-19 cases climb

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Madrid faces tighter restrictions as Spain struggles with a rise in coronavirus infections.

“We do have a very serious situation unfolding before us.”

That was Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of the World Health Organization in Europe, warning of ‘alarming’ rates of transmission of COVID-cases across the region, in a virtual news conference on Thursday.

Kluge said in the past two weeks the number of new cases had doubled in more than half of European member states.

His comments come after the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday that the 14-day case notification rate for the region had risen for more than 50 days, with more than half of all European Union countries currently experiencing an increase in cases. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe has surpassed 30 million, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Read: Coronavirus update: Global cases near 30 million; Trump contradicts CDC head on vaccine timetable and again derides face masks

France said on Friday that it had recorded more than 10,000 daily cases and identified the cities of Lyon and Nice as virus “red zones.” The health ministry registered 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, a record daily increase. It also reported 50 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the country’s national toll to 31,095.

The Spanish health ministry recorded 11,291 new coronavirus cases and an additional 162 deaths in its official report on Thursday, bringing its total death toll — which only includes those who died after a positive polymerase chain reaction test, which uses saliva to determine whether an individual has the virus — to 30,405.

Madrid, which accounted for more than a third (34%) of new COVID cases recorded by Spain’s regions, is set to announce new restrictions on Friday aimed at curtailing the virus, according to a report in El País

Meanwhile, in the U.K. the government imposed stricter measures on parts of the northeast of England, in an effort to curtail the rise in coronavirus infections in the area, which have spiked in recent weeks.

The restrictions, set to come into force on Friday, will ban people from meeting other households, and restaurants and pubs will have to shut at 22:00 BST.

Lancashire in northwest England was set to become the latest area to be placed under tighter local restrictions, according to Lancashire Live.

U.K. health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC the government is “prepared to do what it takes” against COVID-19.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast news, Hancock said there had been an “acceleration” in the number of coronavirus cases in the last couple of weeks, and the number of people admitted to hospital with the virus was doubling about every eight days.

Austria said that from Monday, all parties, private events and indoor meetings will be limited to 10 people. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a press conference that the country had an “exponential rise in new infections,” adding that the country was going through a second wave of the pandemic.