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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

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
14 hours ago - Health

Nursing homes are still getting pummeled by the pandemic

Data: AHCA/NCAL, The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The U.S. has gotten no better at keeping the coronavirus out of nursing homes.

Why it matters: The number of nursing home cases has consistently tracked closely with the number of cases in the broader community — and that's very bad news as overall cases continue to skyrocket.

Dec 1, 2020 - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

11 hours ago - World

Putin says Russia will begin large-scale COVID-19 vaccination next week

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he has directed officials to begin large-scale vaccination against COVID-19 as early as next week, according to state media.

Why it matters: Russia, which has the fourth-largest coronavirus caseload in the world with more than 2.3 million infections, would be the first country to begin mass vaccination. Experts have criticized the lack of scientific transparency around the vaccine and the haste with which the Kremlin approved it.