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People wear masks at the Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris. Niviere David/ABACAPRESS.COM
epicentre

Europe at 'epicentre' of coronavirus outbreak as countries responds to global pandemic

Around the worlds, countries are responding to Covid-19.

EUROPE IS NOW the “epicentre” of the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, the Director General of the World Health Organisation has said. 

“Europe has now become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today. 

“More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” he added. 

In a strongly worded message today to governments around the world, he said: ”Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks “that won’t happen to us” is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to anyone”

As of today according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, over 28,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK. 

Across Europe, countries are taking increasingly drastic measures to try to curb the the spread of the disease amid a growing number of cases on the continent.

Spain

With new infections rising sharply in Spain, the government put 60,000 people in four towns on a mandatory lockdown — the nation’s first and Europe’s second after drastic nationwide measures in Italy.

In Madrid, which is struggling with nearly 2,000 infections, many in nursing homes, the government was pooling intensive care units and considering offers by hotel chains to transform rooms into sick wards.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced a two-week state of emergency and pledged to “mobilise all resources”, including the military, to contain a sharp rise in cases.

Border checks

In Italy, which has took the most dramatic measures to far to respond to the outbreak,the death toll has topped 1,000 with more than 15,000 confirmed cases.

France, Spain and Germany all exceeded 2,000 cases each, and panic buying has been seen around the continent.

In France, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that leaders of the world’s largest democracies, the G7, would hold a video-conference summit on Monday to discuss co-ordinating research on a vaccine and treatments, as well as an economic response.

Additional checks have also been introduced at European borders.

Earlier today, the European Union hurged member countries to put health screening in place at their borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and also pledged a €37 billion aid fund

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have announced the almost total closure of their borders to foreign citizens, with Slovakia making an exception for Poles.

Ukraine plans to close its borders to foreigners for at least two weeks.

Poland has imposed health checks at all it borders.

Austria has suspended rail links, and almost entirely closed its border with Italy, requiring medical certificates and health checks from people seeking entry. It has also suspended air links with France, Spain and Switzerland.

Slovenia has also set up health vetting measures at the border with Italy.

Germany has strengthened checks at the French border.

America

In the US, President Donald Trump is preparing to invoke emergency powers as the US struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak, according to sources.

It is unclear what mechanism the president will use to free up additional resources for testing and treatment as well as help those struggling with the economic impact.

The move comes as House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration are labouring to finish a coronavirus aid package that would fast-track federal aid to anxious Americans and calm teetering financial markets amid the global crisis.

Central to the effort is free testing for the virus and guaranteed sick pay for workers who are taking time away from jobs, along with an infusion of dollars to handle unemployment benefits and boost food programmes for children, families and the elderly.

With reporting from AFP and Dominic McGrath

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