EUROPE could face another Christmas lockdown as cases have exploded across the continent.

World Health Organization said Europe was the only region in the world where Covid-related deaths increased last week, as Belgium's Prime Minister said the continent was on alert....

Within Europe, the WHO said that the highest number of cases came from Russia, Germany, and the UK.

German cases are spiralling in what Chancellor Angela Merkel called a ...dramatic... fourth wave.

With the country's hospitals on the brink of collapse, a lockdown could soon come into force which would last until December 15.

Key developments in Europe's Covid crisis include

Germany hospitals buckling under pressure and lockdown could be enforced until Dec 15Russia Covid cases hitting record highs for second dayBelgium clamping down with heavy restrictions in desperate effort to avoid full lockdownItaly considering introducing a lockdown for unvaccinated amid fourth wave fears sweeping the country

Germany's disease control agency, The Robert Koch Institute, reported 65,371 new daily cases, shattering the previous 24-hour record and continuing an upward trend that experts have warned about for weeks

...We are currently heading toward a serious emergency,... institute director Lothar Wieler said during an online debate late Wednesday.

...We are going to have a really terrible Christmas if we don't take countermeasures now....

But the country's jab rate of just 68% lower than the European average, though many countries have managed to drive down death rates.

German lawmakers today approved new legislation that includes requirements for employees to prove they are vaccinated, recovered from Covid or have tested negative to access communal workplaces.

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Meanwhile, in Belgium, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced a series of measures in a bid to avoid a winter lockdown.

...All the alarm signals are red. Europe's map is quickly going red, and we are the same,... he said.

Children from the age of ten and above will now have to wear masks, and working from home for at least four days a week will be made compulsory starting from Saturday.

The situation is also deteriorating in Italy and it stands on the brink of a fourth lockdown as the number of daily cases reaches the highest level since May.

The Netherlands has already introduced a partial lockdown and Austria will impose a lockdown for the two million unvaccinated people on Monday.

ReutersPeople wait in front of a vaccination bus after Austria imposed a lockdown on unvaccinated people '/ '

AFPPeople stand in line in front of a vaccination bus to get vaccinated in Germany '/ '

GettyGermany is in the grip of a fourth wave '/ '

Elsewhere, in Sweden, the Government will introduce a Covid vaccination pass from December 1 for indoor events involving more than 100 people.

...You who are unvaccinated cannot just carry on as normal; your most important contribution is to get vaccinated,... said social affairs minister Lena Hallengren.

France is being hit by a fifth wave of Covid with more than 20,000 cases reported on Wednesday.

Speaking on 20 Minutes, the country's health minister Olivier Véran said: ...The fifth wave is now hitting France....

He warned that the situation could get worse with charts indicating a risk of more than ...1,000 hospitalisations per day by January 2022....

The Czech Republic announced additional new measures as cases soared to 22,479 with the country's infection rate rising to 813 per 100,000 of the population of the past week.

Under new measures being introduced, most unvaccinated people will not be allowed to attend public events or go to bars or restaurants.

Italy has already tightened its green pass rules in a bid to slow down the number of new cases ahead of the Christmas period.

In strict new measures, trains can now be stopped if any passenger appears to have Covid symptoms while taxi drivers are expected to have a Covid pass.

It comes as Spain could soon introduce vaccine passports for people to enter nightclubs and bars in an attempt to curb the current Covid spike.

While Spain's vaccination rates are positive - with 79 per cent of the population having both jabs - the Covid rates are rising.

The country has reported 88.6 cases per 100,000 over 14 days, a jump of 67 per cent, according to El Pais.

This is much lower than other badly hit European destinations such as Germany and Belgium, but the spike has raised concerns about the efforts to slow the spread.

ReutersFrance is going through its fifth Covid wave '/ '

EPAA nurse tends to a patient at a hospital in Brussels, Belgium '/ '