Covid-19 infections and deaths remain stubbornly high across much of Europe while vaccination efforts are moving so slowly that widespread immunity is unlikely in the region before the fall, raising the prospect of a bleak 2021 for hundreds of millions of Europeans.
With between 3,000 and 4,000 people dying from the disease every day across the European Union in recent weeks, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, governments are prolonging and tightening antivirus measures such as curfews, remote learning and restaurant closures.
Fears are growing, too, of more contagious variants of the virus taking hold before governments can scale up their vaccination programs.
“We will be very challenged at least for the next 10 weeks, and this will be the hardest phase of the pandemic,” Rudolf Anschober, Austria’s health minister, said Sunday as he announced a toughening of his country’s lockdown.
Germany is on Tuesday set to extend its lockdown, in force since November, while adding further measures, including pressing companies to allow most employees to work from home. Slovakia will allow commuting to work only with a negative coronavirus test. France has imposed a nationwide curfew of 6 p.m. Italians are barred from traveling outside their home region for at least another month.