Europe recorded 5,533 cases of the novel COVID-19 virus on Thursday evening. With countries on the continent reporting new cases each day it has been difficult to keep up with the fast-moving developments. Here’s is a round-up of the latest:
Italy: Europe’s hardest-hit country
Confirmed cases: 3,858. Active cases: 3,296. Death toll: 148
Deaths from the virus rose by 41 in the past 24 hours — up from 107 on Wednesday.
The country has been the worst hit in Europe after coronavirus began spreading in towns across the country’s northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto. All schools and universities are shut across the country and all major sporting events will be held behind closed doors until April.
Italy’s bishops ordered churches in affected areas not to hold mass during the week. The Vatican said it was considering changes to Pope Francis’ schedule “to avoid the dissemination” of the virus, but it did not say whether the pope would stop shaking hands.
The virus is causing chaos in politics too: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte postponed a constitutional referendum scheduled for March 29. Italy’s foreign minister got annoyed with US broadcaster CNN accusing it of suggesting that the world was catching the virus from Italy.
The country has set aside €7.5 billion ($8.4 billion) to help the economy with losses due to coronavirus — just days ago the minister had promised a €3.6 billion package but it provoked outcry in Italy’s media.
Germany: Virus could cause a recession
Confirmed cases:543. Active cases: 526. Death toll: 0.
The western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has the most confirmed case of the virus, with figures reaching over 100. The country has banned the export of medical gear and adjusted a national travel advisory to warn of an “elevated quarantine risk” associated with cruise ship travel.
The virus is also causing economic woes in Germany — the Federation of German industries said the virus had increased the risk of the country falling into recession. The country’s Lufthansa Group and its subsidiaries are canceling all flights to Israel and reduced its domestic flight services as Israel barred entry to non-resident arrivals from Germany, France, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.
Germany has not announced a blanket closure of schools and kindergartens.
France: Price cap on hand sanitizer
Confirmed cases:423. Active cases: 359. Death toll: 7
Confirmed cases in the country may have risen by 138 in just 24 hours but Paris’ Louvre Museum — the home to the famous Mona Lisa painting — has re-opened. Employees had been worried about catching the virus from tourists.
France announced measures to stop profiteering from the coronavirus, announcing a cap on the cost of hand sanitizer. From Friday, no-one in France will have to pay more than €3 for 100 milliliters or more than €2 for 40 milliliters.
Spain and Portugal: Madrid bears the brunt in Spain
Spain: Confirmed cases: 259. Active cases: 253. Death toll: 3.
Portugal: Confirmed cases: 9. Active cases:9. Death toll: 0.
Madrid has emerged as the epicenter of the virus in Spain. The country’s health authorities reported 10 new cases of the virus on Thursday, linked to a Madrid nursing home.
There are plans to roll out preventative measures across all of the capital city’s care homes, including setting up isolation zones and barring people with symptoms from communal areas.
Some guests in quarantine at the hotel on the Spanish island of Tenerife were allowed to leave after testing negative for the virus but about 400 others are still unable to go home.
Portugal has reported far fewer infections than its neighbor, even after authorities confirmed its first two cases on Monday.
UK and Switzerland: First deaths from the virus
UK: Confirmed cases: 116. Active cases: 106. Death toll: 1.
Switzerland: Confirmed cases: 118. Active cases: 114. Death toll: 1.
On Thursday, the UK reported its first death from the virus. The patient is understood to be a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions. People diagnosed with the virus rose by more than 30 in since Wednesday.
The spokesperson for the country’s government said that it was “highly likely the virus is going to spread in a significant way.”
Switzerland also recorded its first death on Thursday too — the patient was another woman in her 70s. The country has banned all large public events of more than 1,000 people until mid-March in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.
Central and eastern Europe: Escaping the worst, so far
Countries in central and eastern Europe have managed to remain largely COVID-19 free so far. Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and North Macedonia have only reported one case each.
kmm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)