The World Health Organization said last week that Europe was the hot spot of the pandemic right now, the only region in which COVID-19 deaths were rising. The autumn surge of infections is overwhelming hospitals in many Central and Eastern European nations, including Ukraine, Russia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

A protest against the Belgian government’s newly-strengthened Covid restricts drew as many as 35,000 people to central Brussels on Sunday to s the country faces a spike in coronavirus cases, AP reports.

Many of those at the rally had already left for home when the demonstration turned violent as several hundred people started pelting police, smashing cars and setting garbage bins ablaze. Police, responded with tear gas and water cannons and sought to restore order as dusk settled on the Belgian capital.

Police said three officers and one demonstrator were injured in the clashes. A further 42 protesters were detained and two were arrested and charged in the violent spree that followed the march, said police spokesperson Ilse Vande Keere. She estimated the crowd size as around 35,000.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” and singing the anti-fascist song “Bella Ciao,” protesters lined up behind a huge banner saying “Together for Freedom” and marched to the European Union headquarters. Amid the crowd, the signs varied from far-right insignia to the rainbow flags of the LGBT community. The demonstrators were protesting the government’s vaccine mandate and prohibitions on entering stores and other public indoor spaces without shots or a mask,

The World Health Organization said last week that Europe was the hot spot of the pandemic right now, the only region in which COVID-19 deaths were rising. The autumn surge of infections is overwhelming hospitals in many Central and Eastern European nations, including UkraineRussiaRomaniathe Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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