The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic today soared past 5,000 as Europe continues to battle its escalating crisis.
A total of 3,176 people have died in mainland China, followed by 1,016 in Italy, and 514 in Iran – the three countries with the highest number of deaths.
Since COVID-19 was first detected in December, more than 134,300 people have been infected in 121 countries and territories.
Cases have also soared past 600 in the UK, after Wales confirmed 13 people had been diagnosed today.
Europe has rapidly become the new epicentre of the killer coronavirus, with a total of 28,549 cases.
Travel across the 51 states has been partially suspended to curb the epidemic which largely stemmed from an outbreak in northern Italy.
New cases of the coronavirus – which had never been seen before December 2019 – are being reported daily around the world.
Eight countries have reported more than 1,000 cases so far, including the US, where 1,663 have been infected and 41 have died.
Kazakhstan, Kenya and Ethiopia today confirmed their first cases. The only places in Europe left to declare a case are Montenegro and Kosovo.
Turkey has become the most recent EU state to be hit with coronaivrus, with its second case announced today.
The killer bug first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. A small cluster of people had pneumonia with an unknown cause, which spurred scientists on to do further tests.
COVID-19 is the name given to the disease caused by the coronavirus, which can cause mild symptoms or leave some hospitalised and battling to survive.
The impact on the world has been large enough for the World Health Organization to label the crisis a ‘pandemic’ – defined as a worldwide spread of a new disease.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the pandemic is France’s worst health crisis in a century, following comments from the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday that Britain was facing the ‘worst public health crisis for a generation’.
The World Health Organization said Iran’s healthy system is being significantly challenged by the outbreak. Figures show 11,364 have fallen ill with COVID-19, but there is widespread suspicion that the true scale of the crisis is being covered by health officials.
Some countries that were initially the worst effected are seeing improvements – South Korea, once the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China, today reported its lowest number of new cases for three weeks.
China has benefited from strict lock downs never practised before. At its coronaivrus peak in mid-February, the country was recording around 3,500 new cases a day.
This dramatically slowed, with only 26 new cases recorded yesterday.
However, the infection is sweeping across Europe. The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has jumped by 33 per cent in the last 24 hours.
More than 1,016 people have died across the nation, 189 of whom were in a single day.
The crisis has led to aggressive control measures, with people confined to their homes in a nationwide ban on shops, restaurants and schools opening.
Today France banned gatherings of more than 100 people in a public place, following Italy, Ireland and Scotland.
Mass gatherings are being cancelled as a result, including football matches and other sporting events. There have been prompts to postpone the London Marathon, which has at least 40,000 runners and 750,000 spectators, after Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations were called off.
Nations including Austria, Portugal, France, Denmark and Norway have closed schools and universities.
One of the most dramatic interventions is to begin today – US President Donald Trump has imposed a 30-day ban on travellers from 26 European countries.
Meanwhile, flights to Italy have been cancelled across the globe to stop travellers taking coronavirus across borders.
Austria and Slovenia imposed border restrictions with the Mediterranean country.
The labelling of a pandemic ensures more money is pumped into strategies to end it. The UN has released US$15 million to global funds, while France has pledged US$100million to the WHO.
The European Union will establish a €37billion investment initiative as part of a cushion the bloc’s fall in economy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.
WHAT ARE THE MOST RECENT MEASURES TO STOP CORONAVIRUS IN EUROPE?
European countries are banning gatherings, cancelling events and shutting down schools, universities and shops in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Italy: Italy put full-scale lockdowns nationwide in place on March 9, with court action and fines threatened for people breaking imposed curfews. Schools, cafes, hairdressers and restaurants have been closed as 60million residents are told to stay in their homes.
Countries across the globe have cancelled flights to Italy and restricted Italians from entering, while Austria and Slovenia imposed border restrictions with the Mediterranean country.
Norway: Closed all schools, nurseries and universities, gyms, swimming pools and buffet restaurants, and banned sports events, according to local media. It has also called for people to limit their use of public transport and to work from home where possible.
Portugal: Prime Minister Antonio Costa ordered the shut-down of schools and universities while placing limits on the number of people in nightclubs, restaurants and shopping centres at any one time. The country’s football league was also suspended.
Belgium: Closure of all restaurants, cafes and nightclubs from Friday as it also banned recreational and sporting events and cancelled school classes. Nurseries and public transport are to remain open.
Denmark: Authorities called on shoppers to avoid excessive stockpiling, schools and universities were closed, and indoor events with more than 100 participants were banned. Officials also encouraged bars and nightclubs to close and said libraries, gyms, and museums would close from Friday, Danish media reported.
Spain: Parliament was temporarily suspended and its deputy prime minister in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for the virus. Media reported that Catalan authorities have shut down four towns around the village of Igualada, around 30 miles north of Barcelona. Schools in the capital, Madrid, have begun a two-week shutdown.
Germany: Nightclubs and schools are being closed and many football matches will be played behind closed doors – as well as the Euro 2020 warm-up match between Italy and Germany, scheduled for March 31.
The Republic of Ireland: Closures of schools, colleges and nurseries, with Irish premier Leo Varadkar calling for bans on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people or outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.
Scotland: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said gatherings of 500 people or more would be stopped from Monday and school trips would be cancelled. (Mail)