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Coronavirus: Italy reaches new record high of nearly 41,000 daily cases

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By Shea Lawrence  & Lauren Chadwick with AP
A paramedic carries a patient outside the first aid area of the Cardarelli hospital in Naples, Italy, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020
A paramedic carries a patient outside the first aid area of the Cardarelli hospital in Naples, Italy, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020   -   Copyright  Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo
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Italy recorded a high of nearly 41,000 daily cases as hospitalisations and deaths rise in the country.

Hospitals are crowded with few beds available and the car parks of the legendary Formula One race track of Monza were recently converted into a health facility.

The regions of Tuscany and Campania, where Naples is located, were added as the country's red zones. Piedmont and Lombardy are among the other regions that have already been designated "red zones" where nonessential stores have closed.

Rodolfo Punzi, head of the infectious disease department at Cotugno hospital in Naples said: "The current situation at the Cotugno hospital is that we almost have no more beds available.

"We are working intensively with sacrifice and taking great responsibility, particularly the workers and the nurses."

Another hospital in Naples was the subject of a viral video reportedly showing overcrowding in the emergency room and a dead man lying on the bathroom floor.

"We need restrictions immediately, we shouldn't have gotten to this point, people are dying," said Luigi Di Maio, the country's foreign affairs minister, who said the video was shocking but not surprising as hospitals fill up.

Italy's second wave came a bit later than other European countries, with the country reporting fewer daily cases than other countries such as Spain and France in August and September.

European officials warn that restrictions could last through Christmas

Officials in many EU countries are warning that it is so far too early to lift restrictions, with many saying that there are still many months ahead of living with the virus.

Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany's Robert Koch Institute, said despite a slowdown of infections, the country cannot relax rules. He said that people would still have to live with the virus for the coming months.

German health minister Jens Spahn tweeted meanwhile: "The pandemic will continue to be a constraint - even at Christmas. Now is not the time for bigger company parties. We all want to celebrate Christmas in the family as normally as possible."

French Prime Minister Jean Castex also warned people they would not be able to host large gatherings at the new year, stating that it was too early to say whether people could book trains for Christmas.

Castex said that though some shops might be able to reopen from December 1, bars and restaurants would likely stay closed.

Ireland deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar said that although the country's cases had come down, he would advise people not to book overseas flights to "come home" for Christmas.

France: Lockdown measure won't be eased yet

Two weeks into the country's second national lockdown, cases in France are slowly declining, but the situation in the country is still critical, the government has said.

"If we consider a seven-day average, we observed a 16 per cent decrease. This change must be interpreted in a manner that's positive but cautious," French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

"These last few days, we have tallied one hospitalisation every 30 seconds and an ICU admission every three minutes.

"Forty per cent of people admitted to intensive care are less than 65 years old. This is obviously significant, and the number of hospitalisations has surpassed the April peak."

He announced lockdown measures would to remain in place for at least two more weeks.

Switzerland: Army drafted in to help in hospitals

Switzerland had to call in its army to enhance the workforce in its hospitals — up to 2,500 military personnel will help doctors and nurses to control a spike in the virus that has seen 7,000 cases and 93 dead in the last 24 hours.

But in other countries, the story is slightly more reassuring.

Germany is seeing a drop in its reinfection rate. For every 100 infected people, the virus will be passed on to just 89 — a sign that transmission could be slowing.

The head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's centre for disease control, said the country's curve is "flattening".

Wieler said he is "cautiously optimistic" because the "curve is rising somewhat less steeply." But he said "we don't yet know whether this is a stable development", adding that it's too early to assess what effect the new restrictions are having.

Ireland is on track to end its lockdown on December 1; the government says the average number of weekly cases is a quarter of what it was a few weeks ago and that it is confident some restrictions will be dropped at the start of next month.