Panicked Europe prepares against COVID-19 second wave

European countries have begun to close schools and cancel surgeries, going well beyond curbs on social life, as overwhelmed authorities face their nightmare scenario of a COVID-19 resurgence right before the onset of winter.

Most European nations eased lockdowns over the summer to start reviving economies already heading for unprecedented downturns and job losses from the pandemic’s first wave.

But the return of normal activity – from packed restaurants to new university terms – fuelled a sharply-rising spike in cases all over the continent.

Bars and pubs were among the first to shut or face earlier closing in the new lockdowns, but now the surging infection rates are also testing governments’ resolve to keep schools open and non-COVID medical care going.