Brussels   -   A raft of European nations including Italy and Belgium took desperate new measures on Monday to try to combat a second wave of coronavirus infections as the worldwide caseload topped 40 million.

The latest global milestone came just hours after the number of people who have died from Covid-19 passed 250,000 in Europe, according to an AFP tally, as the pandemic rampages across much of the continent.

Many governments are seeking to avoid the full-on lockdowns imposed in the first wave as they battle to keep their economies going but in some countries, people are chafing against the new restrictions on daily life. 

In Belgium, where hospitalisations rose 100 percent in just the last week, bars and restaurants were closed on Monday for a month and a curfew will be reinforced overnight.

“Managers, chefs, dish-washers, everyone is suffering,” Angelo Bussi said as he put the key in the lock of his Brussels restaurant late Sunday.

“We don’t feel like anyone cares. It breaks my heart,” he told AFP before shrugging and walking off into the night. “Ah, well there we are, see you in a month.”

Belgium’s second major lockdown comes after Prime Minister Alexander de Croo warned the situation was “much worse” than in March when there was an almost complete confinement.

Italy, the initial epicentre of Europe’s outbreak, also announced fresh curbs including earlier closures for bars and restaurants and a push to increase working from home.

“We cannot waste time,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, also flagging bans on amateur team sports and local festivals.

In Poland, where around half the country is now designated as a coronavirus “red zone”, the government said the national stadium would double as a field hospital to help ease the strain on overwhelmed health care facilities.