Czech and Swedish authorities are tightening coronavirus restrictions as infections surge in parts of India and the global airline industry body prepares to launch a digital travel pass.
Faced with the prospect of a "complete catastrophe in the hospitals," the Czech Republic announced a significantly tighter lockdown in an attempt to bring coronavirus case counts under control.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis was on Wednesday discussing the proposals with members of the opposition as well as business and labour groups.
Babis said the health ministry would propose restrictions but declined to give details.
"This virus is really a killer and young people are among those dying," he said.
The country reported more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily tally since January 6, and has the fastest spread rate in Europe, with per capita infections more than six times higher than in neighbouring Germany in the last two weeks.
Babis said the situation was grave.
"Hellish days await us," he said at a news conference.
The Swedish government said on Wednesday it would further curb opening hours for restaurants, bars and cafes as well as tighten limits for the number of people in shops to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is no time to relax," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters.
"We can avoid a third wave if we keep distance."
The spread in Sweden has accelerated in recent weeks and the Health Agency has warned of a possible third wave.
Indian authorities warned on Wednesday that breaches of coronavirus protocols could worsen an infection surge in many states.
Nearly a month after the health minister declared that COVID-19 had been contained, states such as Maharashtra in the west and Kerala in the south have reported a spike in cases amid growing reluctance to wear masks and maintain distancing.
Cases have also risen in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
India's infections are the second highest in the world after the US at 11.03 million, swelled by a further 13,742 in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed.
Deaths rose by a two-week high of 104 to 156,567.
In the past week, a third of India's 36 states and union territories have reported an average of more than 100 new cases each day, with Kerala and Maharashtra both registering more than 4000 in a trend experts link to the reopening of schools and suburban train services.
Maharashtra reported 8807 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest in nearly five months.
Of those, 1167 were in Mumbai, India's financial capital.
Global airline industry body IATA warned that the outlook for airlines has been weakened recently by tightening coronavirus restrictions but said it was preparing for a travel recovery later this year and would launch a digital travel pass in March.
"We need to plan for the recovery," IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said on Wednesday.
"We will need a way to digitally manage health credentials and we need a secure global standard to record test results and vaccinations."
IATA said its travel pass, which will formally launch at the end of March, will help to facilitate travel by putting COVID-19 test results and vaccine certificates in one digital format, speeding up check-in processes.
Summer in the northern hemisphere is make or break for many airlines struggling to survive after a year of minimal revenue owing to the pandemic.
As restrictions ease, digital systems will be needed to accommodate rising passenger numbers.
Heathrow Airport in the UK on Wednesday said that it was taking 20 minutes per passenger to check paper test results and passenger locator forms, something that is only possible when passenger numbers are low.
Vaccinations give hope that more travel will be allowed but IATA said that countries need to issue digital proof to allow travel to take off.
"It's really absolutely critical that we start issuing digital vaccine credentials," said Alan Murray Hayden, IATA's head of airport, passenger and security products.
Australian Associated Press