French health authorities reported 16,096 new cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours. A total of 31,511 people have died from the coronavirus in France and 497,237 cases have been reported.
The UK has reported 6,634 new cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 416,363, Public Health England (PHE) tweeted.
“This is the highest number on record and a strong warning to all of us. The signs are clear. Positivity rates are increasing across all age groups and we continue to see spikes in hospitalization and ICU rates.” , said Public Health UK medical director Yvonne Doyle.
An additional 40 deaths were reported in the UK on Thursday and the death toll, according to the PHE, is now 41,902, the highest in Europe.
On Thursday the Spanish Ministry of Health reported 10,653 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 704,209. The Madrid region has reported 210,768 cases, nearly 30% of the national tally.
The country’s health minister, Salvador Illa, said on Friday that his government has recommended a total lockdown in the capital. “I think we have tough weeks ahead for Real Madrid and we need to act decisively,” Illa said.
The surge comes as thousands of students across Europe have begun to self-isolate following the Covid-19 epidemics.
All 2,500 students at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland’s most prestigious hospitality school, are in quarantine after outbreaks linked to “one or more parties,” the regional authority of the Canton of Vaud said Wednesday.
Several Scottish universities have reported outbreaks of Covid-19 linked to illicit rallies during the start-of-term celebrations known as “Freshmen’s Week”.
On Wednesday, 600 University of Glasgow students were told to self-isolate after 124 new cases were confirmed. The University of St Andrews, one of the UK’s most elite colleges and Prince William’s alma mater, asked students to volunteer on Friday after a raise in cases where it was linked to a party.
Meanwhile, on Friday, British grocery giant Tesco announced three-item limits on essentials including flour, dry pasta, toilet paper, and antibacterial wipes, to avoid panic purchases that caused shortages in the spring.
A spokesperson said, “We have good availability, with plenty of stock to go around, and we would like to encourage our customers to shop normally.”
Europe under pressure
The Paris Public Hospitals Authority has announced it will begin canceling some non-elective procedures in the coming days to make room for coronavirus patients, although it said it will be on a case-by-case basis and not “global cancellation as in mid-March.”
The EU Commissioner for Health has warned that Europe is at a “decisive” point in tackling its second wave, and the actions taken now will determine the severity of the restrictions needed in the coming months.
Italy, the European country most affected at the start of the pandemic, reported a relatively low increase of 1,786 new cases on Thursday, but its health minister warned: “The situation in Europe is serious and cannot be underestimated.
“I believe that we must keep our feet on the ground and continue to invest in the line of prudence”.
CNN’s Amy Cassidy, Niamh Kennedy, Nadine Schmidt, and Livia Borghese contributed to this report.