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Italy records 3,500 new cases of coronavirus in a 24-hour period, Spain records 1,500 new cases

Spain’s cabinet met today to declare a two-week state of emergency.

People wearing face masks on the streets of Madrid.
People wearing face masks on the streets of Madrid.
Image: R4969 Juan Carlos Rojas

Updated Mar 14th 2020, 6:39 PM

ITALY HAS REPORTED its biggest day-to-day jump in the number of infected cases of Covid-19.

National health authorities told reporters today that health officials recorded 3,497 new cases in 24 hours.

It represents a roughly 20% increase on the previous day, while more than half of the new cases have come from Lombardy, the worst hit region in Northern Italy.

Italy’s total cases now tally 21,157 while the death toll rose by 175.

The government in Rome has ordered an unprecedented lockdown, ordering businesses to close and restricting people’s movement.

Mayors of many cities, including Rome and Milan, have even closed public playgrounds and parks. Under a government decree issued earlier in the week, people had been allowed in parks as long as they kept at least a metre between each other.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said production — particularly of food and health supplies — must not stop, and union and industrial leaders have reached an agreement on special measures to keep factories running.

Meanwhile, Spain has confirmed more than 1,500 new cases of coronavirus between Friday and Saturday raising its total to 5,753 cases, the second-highest number in Europe after Italy. 

Denmark and Poland have become the latest countries to shut their borders to most travellers in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

China — where the virus first emerged late last year — is seeing new cases continue to dwindle, but Covid-19 has in recent weeks spread exponentially in Europe, the Middle East and North America.

By Saturday, more than 145,000 infections and over 5,400 deaths had been confirmed worldwide.

Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic, with countries imposing a cascade of restrictions in efforts to prevent their health systems collapsing under the load of cases.

Schools, bars and shops not selling essential goods are among the facilities being closed in many places.

Spain’s cabinet met today to declare a two-week state of emergency and announce more measures to control the outbreak which has spiked sharply in recent days to more than 5,700 infections, with almost 3,000 in the capital Madrid. Spain had recorded 120 Covid-19 deaths.

Spain’s measures fall far short of those ordered by Italy, the worst-hit European country, which has more than 17,600 confirmed cases — the largest outbreak after China — with 1,266 deaths.

2.51319464 A worker disinfects the area in front of the Centrale station in Milan. Source: Claudio Furlan/AP

Denmark closed its borders and halted passenger traffic to and from the country until April 13. Travellers will be turned away at the border if they are unable to show they have “a legitimate reason” to enter.

Poland is closing its borders and denying all foreigners entry unless they live in Poland or have personal ties there. Non-citizens allowed in will be quarantined for 14 days. The Czech Republic and Slovakia took similar action.

Russia said its land borders with Norway and Poland will be closed to most foreigners from tomorrow. 

The Irish government is now advising Irish people to exercise a “high degree of caution” before deciding to travel to other EU countries.  

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney made the announcement on Twitter yesterday evening. 

Today he also issued new travel advice for six EU countries where the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against all non-essential travel. Those countries are Poland, Denmark, Slovakia, Malta, Cyprus and the Czech Republic.

Prior to the announcement, countries such as Italy and Spain required travellers to exercise a high degree of caution. 

Now, a blanket warning has been applied across Europe as the Government attempts to contain the spread of the virus in Ireland. 

The US House of Representatives, meanwhile, has approved legislation to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the pandemic.

The US today added Ireland and the UK to its list of countries which it has closed its doors to for the next 30 days. 

Donald Trump yesterday declared the outbreak a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight it, then threw his support behind the congressional aid package.

The president said: “I am officially declaring a national emergency,” unleashing as much as 50 billion dollars for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.

With reporting from PA

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