Europe under strain of coronavirus crisis with more than 12,000 deaths

Europe under strain of coronavirus crisis with more than 12,000 deaths

World Health Organization declared continent new epicenter of COVID-19 on March 13

News Service AA

Europe is bearing the brunt of the novel coronavirus pandemic, with more than 12,000 deaths in one month.

On March 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the continent the new epicenter of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China last December.

Most European countries have imposed lockdowns and some even declared states of emergency to contain its spread.

- Italy

Italy reported its first death from the coronavirus on Feb. 22. Since then, the country has become the epicenter of the virus in Europe with 6,820 deaths and 69,176 confirmed cases, according to the latest figures provided by the Italian Civil Protection Department.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, which has 4,178 victims alone.

As Italy faces a crucial week to confirm whether a trend reversal has been achieved in terms of new daily infections, the government continues to struggle with how to handle the emergency.

Guido Bertolaso, an emergency expert who was recalled to work by the Lombardy region to handle the outbreak, said Tuesday he had tested positive, sparking new criticism.

The Italian Cabinet approved a new decree Tuesday that introduces stronger sanctions and higher fines for citizens who breach the stricter lockdown rules.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday announced new lockdown rules to tackle the virus contagion, bringing to a halt all the country’s non-strategic firms. But the measures were criticized by opposition parties, business groups and trade unions.

Unions have threatened a nationwide strike to protest against the measures and the government's management of the crisis.

- Spain

Spain has the second highest number of confirmed cases and death toll in Europe after Italy.

As of Wednesday morning, the country recorded more than 42,000 confirmed cases, according to the data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The death toll in the country has jumped to nearly 3,000 and new measures have been taken by the government to tackle the crisis.

The Madrid region, which has recorded over 1,500 deaths, has been forced to begin using a large skating rink as a temporary morgue as regular funeral services have been unable to cope with the mounting number of contagious corpses.

A military-style hospital has also been set up in the capital city’s major conference center. With as many as 5,000 beds to treat COVID-19 patients, it is expected to soon become the country’s largest hospital.

The latest figures show that a further 2,636 people are currently in intensive care units.

The increasing fatalities in Spain have been moving faster than in either China or Italy, according to the local daily El Pais.

Hospitals and nursing homes across the country report a shortage of protective equipment for healthcare workers and increasingly dire situations.

Around 5,400 healthcare workers in Spain have tested positive for the virus so far.

On Monday, it emerged that the Spanish military discovered dead bodies lying in their beds in nursing homes and other elderly residents completely abandoned.

Spain has been on strict lockdown for 10 days. Unlike other countries, people are not even allowed to leave their homes for a stroll or other exercises -- only to perform essential tasks.

- France

In the second week of lockdown in France, the death toll from COVID-19 has hit 1,100, with reported cases reaching 22,302.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday warned public about stricter measures as outings were limited to one hour, one time a day, with residents to go no further than 1 km (0.6 mile) radius from one's home.

Violators are presently fined up to €135 ($147) for those rebuffing confinement, which could rise to €1,500 for recidivism within 15 days or €3,700 and six months in prison for violations in 30 days.

- UK

The U.K. joined many other countries in imposing a national lockdown for citizens as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced it earlier this week.

The country confirmed 8,164 positive cases and some 422 people fell victim to the deadly virus.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced at a press conference on Tuesday that the government was converting a London conference center into an emergency hospital.

It will be one of a number of emergency hospitals to be built around the U.K.; London was chosen as the first destination as the capital is ahead of the rest of the country in terms of the number of coronavirus cases.

The NHS Nightingale at the ExCel centre will have 4,000 beds for coronavirus patients.

Hancock also said that 11,788 former healthcare staff, including doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff, have agreed to return to the National Health Service in order to help fight the outbreak.

He added that 5,500 senior medical students and 1,800 final year nursing students will also enter the National Health service early.

- Germany

Germany's death toll from coronavirus rose to 164 on Wednesday, with more than 33,500 confirmed cases, local health authorities said.

Germany has tightened coronavirus restrictions on Sunday with banning any social contact between more than two people in public.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin, after a video conference call with the premiers of 16 federal states, that they agreed on new restrictive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Merkel said in the next two weeks, authorities will not allow more than two people to gather in public, and underlined that those who go out for essential duties or shopping, should observe at least a 1.5-meter-distance from others.

Restaurants were ordered to close or serve only takeaway and delivery orders.

Also, the chancellor entered self-quarantine on Sunday due to earlier contact with a doctor who had tested positive for coronavirus.

However, Merkel tested negative for coronavirus, local media reported on Monday although she will continue to be tested in the coming days.

- The Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the countries with high number of deaths and cases in Europe.

Some 276 people have lost their lives and 5,580 people tested positive.

The Dutch government have taken measures to stem the spread of the virus like other European countries.

The government has tightened the measures as of Monday, all gatherings have been banned until June 1, with an exception for funerals and church weddings.

People are only allowed to be outside if they have to go to work, to do shopping or to care for other people.


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