ALL European countries must enforce total a coronavirus lockdown like Italy within 10 days, ex-Italian PM warns.
The killer virus threatens to engulf Europe, having swept across the continent with up to 70 per cent of citizens at risk, European leaders say.
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Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi set an ominous warning on Wednesday, saying: “Today, the red zone is Italy,” but warned if containment measures fail, “the red zone will be Europe.”
Renzi said the virus had 10 days of a head start on the government, and that sweeping measures like the government’s decree were necessary to save all of Europe.
“Today the red zone is Italy,” he said. But in 10 days, he said, it will be Madrid, Paris and Berlin, the New York Times reported.
It took less than a month for the number of coronavirus cases to escalate from just dozens to thousands.
At the end of February, all nations in Europe other than Italy reported just a few dozen cases.
Now, Italy accounts for about half of the nearly 20,000 cases in Europe with more than 10,100 confirmed infections.
France, Germany and Spain have well over 1,000 cases each.
Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland each have at least 400 confirmed cases.
While Denmark and Belgium have both reported more than 250 cases, and Sweden has more than 350.
TWO THIRDS OF GERMANY MAY BE INFECTED
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the coronavirus was likely to infect about two-thirds of the German population.
In her first public appearance to address the epidemic, she said: “Given a virus for which there is no immunity and no immunization, we have to understand that many people will be infected.
"The consensus among experts is that 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected."
By 5pm on Wednesday, 1,629 people in Germany tested positive with the virus.
Going by Ms Merkel's worse-case scenario estimates, up to 58million of Germany's citizens could catch the disease.
The Chancellor told reporters: “We are at the start of a development that we cannot yet see the end of… But we as a country will do whatever is necessary to do, working within the European bloc.
“This is an exceptional situation, and we will do whatever is needed.
"We won’t ask every day, ’What does this mean for our deficit?’”
The chancellor urged Germans to stay home whenever possible and take precautions to ensure that the health system would be able to withstand the high number of people who could fall seriously ill.
"This is a test for our solidarity, our common sense and care for each other. And I hope we pass the test," she said.
Health Minister Jens Spahn added that 80 per cent of all infected patients would have almost no symptoms, making it harder to stop.
However other German health experts say it is unlikely that two-thirds of Germans will get coronavirus.
Virologist Alexander Kekulé, a former federal government advisor on disease control, told German media that in the worst case scenario a maximum of 40,000 people in the country would get the virus.
European leaders held a summit by video conference, noting that up to 70 per cent of Europeans – or 250million people – could be infected by Covid-19.
Speaking after the discussion, Bulgaria’s prime minister, Boyko Borissov, spoke of his concern by posting on Facebook: “Today at the videoconference with my European council colleagues, specialist analyses were quoted that said that coronavirus would affect more than 70% of Europe’s population.
ITALY ON LOCKDOWN
A massive spike in infections has seen ministers across the Continent race to put draconian measures in place to control the spread.
Italy is the worst-affected country in the world after China.
Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte placed the whole country under an unprecedented lockdown on Monday night.
The move will see all public events banned, cinemas, gyms and pubs closed, funerals and weddings cancelled and sporting matches including Serie A games suspended.
Within minutes of the announcement, supermarkets and late night stores across Italy reported a surge of panic buying.
Italy on lockdown
- Italians told to stay home and “limit social contact as much as possible”
- All public events banned, with sporting matches including Serie A games suspended
- Weddings and funerals cancelled, with cinemas, gyms and pubs closed
- Travel only allowed for “urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons”
- Public and private companies encouraged to put their employees on leave
- Mortgage payments suspended, with debt moratoriums offered to small firms and households
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