British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in self-isolation Monday after a contact tested positive for the coronavirus while spiralling infections in the United States saw stay-at-home measures imposed on Chicago, its third-biggest city.
Global infections have soared past 54 million with more than 1.3 million deaths, spurring governments to reimpose unpopular and stifling restrictions on social life, free movement and business.
In hard-hit Europe curbs have been brought back — often in the face of protests — from Greece to Britain, where PM and Covid-19 survivor Johnson insisted he was healthy and isolating out of precaution after coming into contact with an MP who later tested positive for the virus.
“It doesn’t matter that I’m fit as a butcher’s dog, feel great… that I’ve had the disease and I’m bursting with antibodies,” said Johnson, who was hospitalised for the virus in April.
“We’ve got to interrupt the spread of the disease,” he added, saying he would lead the virus response from Downing Street.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for tighter measures, including masks in all schools and smaller class sizes.
Outside work or school, contact between people should also be “restricted to those from another fixed household”, under a proposal from Merkel’s office due to be put to regional leaders.
Germany began a new round of shutdowns in November, closing restaurants, cultural venues and leisure facilities.
But while new cases are plateauing, daily numbers, officials say, are still too high.