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Medical staff processes a COVID-19 test in Zeitz, Germany. PPhoto by Jens Schlueter via Getty Images

Europe continues to struggle with the rapidly evolving coronavirus as Germany's public health agency warns of a "third wave" of coronavirus infections and Italy prepares to enter another near-nationwide lockdown.

The big picture: Countries have attempted to lift restrictions as vaccination campaigns are deployed, but doing so too quickly could invite another wave of infections amid the spread of new variants.

  • Germany has gradually relaxed lockdown restrictions in recent weeks, but there are "clear signs" of a third wave that has already begun, Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, told CNBC on Monday.
    • Germany has had over 2.5 million coronavirus cases and saw a spike in the number of daily cases in March, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
    • Noting that Germany was underprepared in vaccine distribution, Wieler added that "the virus is not going to disappear, but once we have a base level of immunity in the population, we can control it."
  • Italy's top officials are considering enforcing tougher health measures from March 15 through April 6, Italian news agency ANSA reports.
    • The government plans to place almost the entire country in its red zone, imposing the maximum level of restrictions from April 3 to April 5. This period includes Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.
    • Italy has topped 3.2 million coronavirus cases, with the number of daily cases rising steadily since February, per Johns Hopkins University.
    • The only region in Italy's white zone is Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The new restrictions come after many European countries suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations amid reports of blood clots.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Laurene Powell Jobs' $3.5 billion climate campaign

Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective, is investing $3.5 billion in her new climate-action group, the Waverley Street Foundation — all to be spent in 10 years, as a way to show urgency on the issue.

  • Then the group will sunset.

The big picture: The foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change," an official tells Axios.

R. Kelly found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Singer R. Kelly on Monday was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of violating an anti-sex trafficking law, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Sexual misconduct allegations have surrounded R. Kelly's career, including a child sexual abuse image case in 2008 where he was acquitted. Multiple other victims have come forward to speak about the abuse in recent years.

German elections: After close result, jockeying to replace Merkel begins

Data: Preliminary results from German Federal Returning Officer; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) pulled off a come-from-behind victory in Sunday’s elections, 10 seats ahead of the Christian Democrats (CDU), which failed to finish top for the first time in 16 years.

State of play: SPD leader Olaf Scholz has said he’ll seek to form a government, but so too has Armin Laschet, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor as CDU leader.

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