Europe becomes epicenter of pandemic: WHO

By Ren Yan Source:People's Daily Published: 2020/3/14 7:09:11

People wearing face masks walk on a street in Rome, Italy, on March 12, 2020.(Photo by Elisa Lingria/Xinhua)

Europe has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases in China slow and the deadly coronavirus runs through the continent, the World Health Organization said Friday.

WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday as the virus spreads rapidly across the world from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and now parts of the United States. More than 132,500 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in 123 countries and territories with 5,000 deaths.

"Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more cases reported in Europe every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters.

At the height of the crisis in China in early February, there were around 3,000 new infections a day.  Now Europe's count has risen by around 16,000 since Monday - an average of 4,000 per day. The virus has now killed more than 1,200 people in Europe.

Italy is the worst-affected European country, with 17,660 infections overall, followed by Spain at 4,334, Germany at 3,156 and France at 2,882, according to the latest data.

Other countries in Europe are seeing cases soar. Switzerland currently has 1,125 cases, followed by Sweden at 809, the Netherlands at 804 and Denmark at 788.

"Do not just let this fire burn," Tedros urged countries to take a comprehensive approach to try to fight the pandemic.

Italy has imposed a nationwide lockdown. Meanwhile, at least 10 other countries in Europe are enforcing border closures, including Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Poland.

Belgium, France, Switzerland and parts of Germany are among the latest countries to close schools. There are also widespread curbs on large gatherings and measures to close theatres, restaurants and bars.

Posted in: EUROPE

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