Health, Europe

Coronavirus brings Europe to virtual standstill

Governments lock down cities, ban public gatherings to contain outbreak

Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak   | 13.03.2020
Coronavirus brings Europe to virtual standstill


Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has brought life in major cities across Europe to a virtual standstill with casualties rising every day.

In Europe’s worst-hit country, Italy, the death toll climbed to 1,016 with 12,839 confirmed cases – the highest anywhere in the world after China.

The Italian government warned citizens that new containment measures – including a stricter lockdown of shops and bars and restrictions on public gatherings – will take at least a couple of weeks to slow down the spread of the virus.

Italy’s stigma as the hotbed of the virus in Europe is also having a major impact on airport traffic.

Operations at the two airports in Rome -- Fiumicino and Ciampino -- were reduced on Thursday, following a high number of cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The death toll in Spain has jumped to 84 and the number of confirmed cases reached 2,966.

The outbreak has grinded Madrid to a halt as the Spanish capital accounts for nearly half of the country’s cases.

The regional government has closed down all schools and told people to work from home when possible, but the region is still open for travel.

Spain’s Minister for Equality Irene Montero on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in an International Women’s Day march -- attended by around 375,000 people -- in Madrid on Sunday.

Spain’s football league has been suspended and the entire Real Madrid team sent into quarantine.

Just last night, according to a report, 2,800 fans of Atletico Madrid traveled to Liverpool in the U.K. for a UEFA Champions League match.

France and UK

The death toll in France rose to 61, with 2,281 confirmed cases, according to the Health Ministry.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced new measures against the coronavirus outbreak in a televised address to the nation.

Macron said nurseries, schools, colleges, high schools and universities will be closed indefinitely as of March 16.

The French government has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people to guard against the virus.

A total of 590 cases have been confirmed so far in the U.K., with 10 deaths within the country.

The British government issued a new health advisory to the elderly and children on Thursday as the country's coronavirus plan transitions from "contain" to "delay" and the social and economic impact increases.

The government said the mildly ill should self-isolate, discouraging the elderly from going on cruises, and schools from taking students on school trips abroad.

However, British Prime Minister Borris Johnson ruled out at the current time school closures or banning large gatherings.

He said major events could be canceled in the near future to lessen the burden on the public health service.

Scotland banned gatherings of more than 500 people and Ireland closed down schools, though the national U.K. government has yet to follow suit.

Britain's Electoral Commission also recommended on Thursday postponing local elections due to the coronavirus outbreak.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 123 countries.

The global death toll is now over 4,900, with more than 132,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

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