Europe in Crisis: Nations Across the Continent Grapple with Growing Coronavirus Pandemic

TOPSHOT - A medical staff wearing a protective suit unloads a woman from an ambulance on a stretcher at the Emile Muller Hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, on March 22, 2020, on the sixth day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (Photo …
SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images

Throughout the world, some 13,500 people have died from the coronavirus, with at least 313,000 confirmed infections. Europe is now considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be the epicentre of the virus, leading to economic and health crises across the continent.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from countries across Europe:

Spain:

On Sunday, the death toll in Spain jumped by 30 per cent in a 24-hour period, bringing the total number of deaths from the coronavirus 1,720. The number of confirmed cases in the country rose by nearly 4,000 in the same time span, with at least 28,572 known cases of the virus, Bloomberg reports.

The country is quickly trying to establish makeshift field hospitals as well as setting up quarantine zones in hotels for those displaying mild symptoms of the virus. Spain has also called on retired doctors and nurses to help with staff shortages in hospitals.

“We must prepare ourselves emotionally and psychologically for very hard days ahead,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, as the country is considering extending its fifteen-day lockdown.

Italy:

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that all non-essential production will be halted in Italy, saying that the country is facing the gravest crisis since the Second World War.

“The decision taken by the government is to close down all productive activity throughout the territory that is not strictly necessary, crucial, indispensable, to guarantee us essential goods and services,” Conte said in comments reported by the Guardian.

Only supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential businesses will be permitted to stay open as the country continues its nation-wide lockdown.

On Saturday, 793 people died from the coronavirus in Italy, bringing the total number of lives lost since the outbreak to 4,825.

Germany:

Germany has reported over 20,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with 70 deaths as of Saturday. The country’s economy is expected to shrink by 5 per cent as a result of the pandemic.

Government projections forecast that the country will take in 33.5 billion euros ($35.8 billion) less than expected in tax revenue, as well as having to spend 10 billion euros on out of work benefits for an estimated 2 million people.

On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a teleconference with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states to determine whether or not to implement a nation-wide lockdown, according to Deutsche Welle.

The country has already largely shut its borders to foreigners as a result of the coronavirus, and several states have implemented lockdown measures.

Belgium:

The small European nation recorded 586 new cases of the coronavirus over the weekend, with 3,401 infected in total. Belgium became the fourth country in Europe to introduce a country-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, joining France, Italy, and Spain.

The lockdown in Belgium is set to last until April 5th, and citizens have been told to remain in their homes except to get food, go to work, seek medical assistance, and help vulnerable people.

“Authorities rely on the sense of duty of each Belgian and the respect towards these decisions taken to protect them, their relatives and loved ones. Only the personal commitment of each and everyone will allow these measures to have a real impact on the situation,” the government said.

The European Union:

To deal with the economic fallout amongst its member states, the European Union is considering serval different options to deal with the pandemic. Bureaucrats in Brussels are considering the European Stability Mechanism, a bailout system used during times of economic crisis.

The bloc is also considering establishing “coronabonds” to raise money to help fight the virus.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has already spent €750 billion in a bond-buying package in an effort to ease the financial strain on Italy, France and Greece, however, the economic crisis in the bloc has only widened.

“The consensus is growing day by day that we need to face an extraordinary crisis with extraordinary tools,” Paolo Gentiloni, the bloc’s economics chief, told the Financial Times.

“The discussion is going on this weekend to adopt a good decision in view of the European Council next Thursday,” Gentiloni said.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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