Europe in trouble as Spain records over 1,500 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours
London, March 14, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Health authorities in Spain say coronavirus infections have reached 5,753 people, of which almost 3,000 are in the capital, Madrid.
That represents a national increase of more than 1,500 in 24 hours.
No new figures for deaths were immediately announced, but as of Friday, Spain had recorded 120 COVID-19 deaths.
The country is preparing to declare a state of emergency today.
Spain’s Cabinet will meet on Saturday to declare a two-week state of emergency and announce more measures to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has spiked sharply in recent days to over 4,000 infections in the country.
The measure would allow the government to limit free movement, confiscate goods, and take over control of industries and private facilities, including private hospitals.
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Residents in Madrid, which has around half the infections, and northeast Catalonia awoke Saturday to shuttered bars and restaurants and other nonessential commercial outlets as ordered by regional authorities.
Denmark is closing all its borders to travellers in a bid to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Danish government said late Friday that the country will close its borders — land, sea and air — at midday on Saturday until April 13. All passenger traffic to and from Denmark will be stopped.
Travellers will be turned away at the border unless they can show that they have “a legitimate reason” to be there, such as that they are Danish citizens or foreign nationals living and working in the country.
“We are in uncharted territory,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference. “We’re in the middle of something none of us has faced before.”
“I know that the overall list of measures (announced by Denmark) is very extreme and will be seen as very extreme, but I am convinced that it’s worth it.”
Denmark has so far confirmed 827 cases of the virus in its population of 5.6 million.
Russia has also said that its land borders with Norway will be closed to foreigners beginning Sunday, as will the borders of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave with Poland. Belarus citizens, foreigners with legal residence in Russia and members of official delegations are excepted.
Other Russian borders with European countries remain open.
Several hospitals in Rome are frantically setting up new ICU and sub ICU units to face the COVID-19 emergency in the Lazio region.
The Gemelli University Hospital is creating 21 new intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 28 new general hospitalisation beds, as part of the new Columbus Covid 2 Hospital, an area fully dedicated to the COVID-19 cases in order to support the regional health hub to contain the pandemic.
Once completed, Columbus Covid 2 Hospital will have 74 new beds and 59 ICU beds: 20 doctors and 65 nurses working on ordinary hospitalisations while 48 anaesthetists and 180 nurses will be committed to intensive care.
The Columbus Covid 2 Hospital will begin operating as of March 16.
Europe new ‘epicentre’ of the pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that the continent — where more countries have declared a national state of emergency over COVID-19 — is now the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
“More cases are now being reported every day [in Europe] than were being reported by China at the height of its epidemic,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
He said 5,000 people have now died of the virus, calling it “a tragic milestone,” and urged governments to implement social distancing measures to slow the spread.
“Do not let this fire burn,” he said. “Isolate the sick.”
EU divided over border measures
EU President Ursula von der Leyen has condemned some European countries for introducing blanket travel bans and border closures in response to coronavirus, saying: ‘The single market has to function’.
Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are among the nations forbidding entry to anyone arriving from Italy or without a certificate of health.
Brussels really struggling with #CoronaVirus— Darren McCaffrey (@DarrenEuronews) March 13, 2020
EU telling members borders should remain open, ths single market must function and yet country after country is simply ignoring
For #Brexit tweeters
YES it shows EU can be dis-functional BUT also countries do control own borders
“It is not good when member states take unilateral action because it always causes a domino effect and that prevents urgently-needed medical equipment from reaching patients and hospitals,” she said.
“It amounts to the reintroduction of internal borders at a time when solidarity between member states is needed.”
She made the comments as she announced new Europe-wide guidelines on health checks at border crossings and the suspension of rules forbidding state aid as part of a €37 billion rescue package to fight the impact of COVID-19.
The pandemic is “a major shock” for Europe’s economy, she said, “but we must work together to ensure it is as short and as limited as possible.”
Von der Leyen said she understood the pressure on countries to protect themselves from the spread of coronavirus.
“Certain controls may be justified but general travel bans are not seen as being the most effective by the WHO,” she said. “Moreover, they have a strong social and economic impact, they disrupt people’s lives and business across the borders concerned. Any measure that is taken must be proportionate.”
She said: “I want to be very clear — the single market has to function.”