By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) – Europe, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new epicenter of the novel coronavirus on March 13, is under pressure from its high numbers of infection and deaths.
The total number of confirmed cases on the continent, including the worst-hit countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the U.K. exceeds 419,000 while the death toll now tops 30,000.
The toll is more than 20,000 between Italy and Spain where the virus have spread to more than 200,000. The disease has also triggered alarms in the U.K., which reported almost 400 deaths in a single day.
Many countries are now under lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.
The death toll in Italy reached 12,428 Tuesday, the highest in the world.
The country confirmed its first death from the coronavirus on Feb. 22 and has become the epicenter of the virus in Europe since then.
A slowdown has occurred, however, with the number of new cases growing only 2.8% from Monday to 77,635.
The number of recoveries also continued to surge, reaching 15,729.
Experts say the outbreak has not yet peaked in the country but is approaching that point.
The government is expected to approve a decree by early April that will likely extend lockdown measures for at least another two weeks.
The country has been under lockdown since March 9.
Spain’s Health Ministry confirmed 864 deaths Wednesday -- its highest daily figure -- and the death toll reached 9,053.
The number of confirmed cases also jumped exceeding 100,000 mark.
The country also announced that nearly 13,000 healthcare professionals in Spain have COVID-19 – the highest proportion of affected frontline workers in the world.
Spain has been on a nationwide lockdown since March 14. This week, it was further tightened, with hundreds of thousands of additional workers not involved in the most basic activities being forced to stay home.
The death toll in France exceeded 3,500 Tuesday, with 499 reported in the past 24 hours.
The Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 52,128 cases of infection.
Tuesday marked the second wave of confinement in France, a measure President Emmanuel Macron put in place on March 17 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The lockdown was extended until April 15 in an announcement Sunday evening by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
The U.K. reported the biggest single-day jump in its death toll Tuesday, with 393 fatalities recorded over the last 24 hours.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both announced that they had tested positive for the coronavirus on March 27.
Also, on March 25, Britain’s Prince Charles tested positive. He has since recovered and is no longer under quarantine.
The country has been under lockdown for eight days to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Germany is the third-worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, but its death toll has remained lower so far than the two hardest-hit countries -- Italy and Spain.
While the country has more than 71,800 positive cases, the death toll is at 775 as of Wednesday morning.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government announced Saturday that it would not ease lockdown measures before April 20 due to the continued rise of infections in the country.
Last week, the government tightened coronavirus restrictions, banning any social contact between more than two people in public. The federal states also ordered all non-essential shops to close, with restaurants restricted to takeaway and delivery service.
- The Netherlands
In the Netherlands, cases have mounted to 12,667 as the death toll is also over a thousand.
On Wednesday, confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the country is 1,039.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 200 countries and territories, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Nearly 858,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 42,000 and over 178,000 recoveries.