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A worker packs away awnings outside a cafe in London. Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

A slew of European countries have announced new lockdowns over the last week in response to uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus.

Between the lines: Many of these countries are facing the threat of overrun health care systems in the near-term future and, potentially, harrowing decisions about how to ration care, the Washington Post reports.

  • "An exponential phenomenon starts with very small numbers, and it is not tangible for weeks and weeks and weeks for people out there," Emmanuel André, a leading Belgian virologist, told the Post. "If you look at the numbers, you have very strong indicators early on that things are going wrong, but it is only at the very end that things explode."

What we're watching: The U.S. is on a similarly dire trajectory, although it's unclear how we'll respond.

Driving the news: A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

  • Austria announced a four-week nighttime curfew and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants as another surge of coronavirus infections strains the country's health care system, according to Reuters.
  • Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said over the weekend that most of the country will resume a coronavirus lockdown starting Tuesday, including closing restaurants, bars, cafes, movie theaters and gyms, AP reports.
  • Belgium began enforcing a strict lockdown yesterday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.