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Third wave: New surge in COVID cases forces Europe on the defensive

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By Chris Harris
A man wipes his eyes after police used tear gas toward protesters demanding an end to economic restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic in Warsaw, Poland
A man wipes his eyes after police used tear gas toward protesters demanding an end to economic restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic in Warsaw, Poland   -   Copyright  Czarek Sokolowski/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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A third wave of COVID-19 is sweeping Europe.

Central Europe is badly hit. Poland has tightened restrictions as cases hit record levels, while Hungary has had the world's highest infection rate.

Crosses were painted on a Prague square to protest COVID deaths in the Czech Republic, where figures are improving after restrictions paid dividends.

Estonia has the world's worst daily infection rate. Finland is proposing to lockdown key cities, including Helsinki.

In south-east Europe, Bulgaria, struggling with its vaccine rollout, has tightened restrictions as cases increase ahead of elections. Romania will go ahead with Easter celebrations despite infections surging.

Bosnia and Herzegovina received its first COVAX vaccines this week, but cases are increasing, as they are in vaccination-leading Serbia.

A rise in people with COVID is threatening Greece's desire to open up for the tourist season. Cases have fallen in Spain.

Belgium is introducing new restrictions this weekend to fight rising cases. A lockdown in the Netherlands is not having the desired effect.

France is extending a partial lockdown to new areas this weekend, as doctors say more young people are dying from COVID-19.

Germans are being warned to prepare for a fresh wave. Earlier this week Angela Merkel rowed back on a plan for restrictions over Easter.

Italy is seeing infections level off after locking down parts of the country.

The vaccination-leading UK is easing its lockdown on Monday. Portugal is also taking its foot off the gas as cases drop.