Covid-19 updates from around Europe: Italy reports 250 new deaths, 2,500 new cases

Italy is reporting 250 new deaths related to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Covid-19 updates from around Europe: Italy reports 250 new deaths, 2,500 new cases

Italian civil protection authorities said the number of infections has soared by more than 2,500 in 24 hours while virus-related deaths make the largest single-day jump of 250.

That took the total number of infected in Italy to 17,660 and the number of related deaths to 1,266.

European Union interior ministers are trying to co-ordinate their response to the coronavirus as cases spread throughout the 27-nation bloc and countries take individual measures to slow the disease down.

With Italy at the epicentre of Europe’s outbreak, some of its neighbours, like Austria and Slovenia, have begun taking steps to restrict traffic at their borders, raising questions about the movement of food and medical equipment.

The virus is now present in all 27 EU countries. More than 22,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed across Europe, and more than 1,000 people have died on the continent.

Here are the latest updates from elsewhere around Europe.

SPAIN

Prime minister Pedro Sánchez said the government will declare a two-week state of emergency starting on Saturday.

Mr Sanchez said Spain will “mobilise all resources”, including the military, to contain a sharp rise in cases.

It comes after more than 60,000 people were confined to four towns in Spain’s first mandatory lockdown. The situation in and around the capital Madrid has seen nearly 2,000 positive cases.

The country had more than 4,200 cases by Friday afternoon and at least 120 deaths.

The royal palace said King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have tested negative for Covid-19.

The royal couple took the test on Thursday after the government confirmed the infection of equality minister Irene Montero, who had attended an event with the queen last week.

Another cabinet member was also confirmed to be infected after all the panel was tested.

AUSTRIA

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced dramatic measures including quarantining two hard-hit areas of Tirol.

He told reporters in Vienna that the towns of St Anton am Arlberg and the Paznauntal area would be isolated for 14 days, but added residents and tourists there now will be taken care of.

Retail businesses are being asked to close from Monday, apart from those providing essential services such as supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, post offices and pharmacies. Bars and cafes will only be allowed to stay open until 3pm.

Austria has 422 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and one death.

GREECE

The Greek Olympic committee says it is suspending the rest of its torch relay because of “unexpectedly large crowd” that gathered to watch despite repeated requests to stay away to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee said a large crowd had gathered to watch the flame for the Tokyo Olympics pass through the southern town of Sparta. The flame had been lit on Thursday at the birthplace of the games in Ancient Olympia in a pared-down ceremony.

The handover of the Olympic Flame to the Tokyo organising committee will go ahead as scheduled on March 19 at the stadium in Athens where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.

CZECH REPUBLIC

The government said Czech citizens coming home from 15 countries that are considered risky will have to stay under quarantine for two weeks.

The announcement also covers foreigners arriving from China, Iran, Korea, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Britain.

The Czech Republic has 117 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

FRANCE

President Emmanuel Macron vowed that nationwide elections will go ahead this weekend, after France’s number of cases jumped past 2,800, including 61 deaths.

The virus is sure to dominate the process as voters choose mayors and tens of thousands of local officials in the first round of elections on Sunday.

Voting stations are under orders to allow a one-metre gap between people in queues, and to provide soap, sanitising gel or disinfectant wipes for voting machines. Authorities advised voters to bring their own pen to sign the voting register.

GERMANY

States are beginning to close down schools as a precautionary measure.

The southern state of Bavaria, the western state of Saarland and the city-state of Berlin all announced measures on Friday, and others are expected to later.

Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said the state is implementing strict restrictions on visits to hospitals, retirement homes and other facilities where people may be particularly vulnerable.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and state governors have agreed on other measures including asking hospitals to postpone any non-essential operations or other procedures to keep beds and facilities free.

BULGARIA

Legislators voted unanimously to approve the government’s proposal for a 30-day state of emergency across the country.

Prime minister Boyko Borissov said this will allow the government to shut down schools, nurseries, universities, concert halls and nightclubs.

He said parliament should vote on penalties for people ordered into quarantine who do not follow procedures.

A ban will be imposed on travel to certain countries, and people from countries with a high rate of infections will be banned from entering the country.

NORWAY

Norway has reported its first death from the coronavirus. Prime minister Erna Solberg said “an elderly person” died on Thursday in Oslo.

King Harald V, members of the royal family and some government officials have been put in quarantine because they had travelled abroad in recent weeks.

DENMARK

Legislators passed a temporary law under which authorities can force people who are suspected of having the virus to undergo tests. The law also gives authorities the ability to ban access to public places and stores.

The government has already closed all schools and daycare facilities and ordered government workers who do not perform critical functions to stay home for the next two weeks,

Queen Margrethe has cancelled all events around her 80th birthday on April 16.

ESTONIA

Estonia has declared a state of emergency, meaning no events can take place in public areas.

Prime minister Juri Ratas said: “The state must be able to give citizens clear and if necessary mandatory instructions that would help to put a limit to the spread of the virus.”

He said he understands the inconvenience, “but what is at stake is not the protection of just people’s health, but also lives”.

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