England, Italy brace for Christmas lockdowns as Europe battles virus surge

London (AFP) – Millions of people in England and Italy will celebrate Christmas under tough new coronavirus restrictions announced Saturday, as Europe battles a winter surge including a more infectious new strain.  Europe has become the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic broke out a year ago, killing more than 1.6 million worldwide and pitching the global economy into turmoil. In England, where a lockdown-weary population had been looking forward to a temporary five-day relaxation of virus restrictions over the festive period, British Prime Minist…

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