ALMOST 200 million Europeans are facing life under extreme coronavirus controls.
Tonight France revealed it would follow in Italy and Denmark's footsteps by announcing a closure of all schools and universities from Monday, with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring coronavirus the country's worst health crisis in a century.
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New coronavirus restrictions were revealed on Thursday for countries including Ireland, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic, involving the closure of schools, universities and government buildings to try and halt the infection rate.
But as world leaders individually respond to COVID-19, many officials are questioning the UK’s “keep calm and carry on” approach.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired an emergency Cobra committee where he declared the UK's tactics will shift from “containing” the killer disease to merely “delaying” its inevitable spread.
Meanwhile, Italy has quarantined its entire population.
Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also warned all European countries could enforce a total coronavirus lockdown like Italy within 10 days.
Donald Trump dramatically escalated the U.S. response to the pandemic, by enforcing a travel ban on continental Europe.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar then ordered the closure of Ireland’s schools, colleges and childcare facilities.
While in Spain schools, universities and public events were being shut down across a broadening swath of the country.
Poland said it would introduce a state of epidemic threat, which gives the government the power to temporarily limit certain types of movement.
Slovakia declared a state of emergency, banning visits to hospitals and social care facilities and ordering the weekend closure of all shopping malls, excluding food stores and pharmacies.
Denmark announced the closure of all its schools, kindergartens and universities.
In total 21,953 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the EU, with 946 deaths.
The measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease are having far-reaching effects on the economies as well as individual workers, triggering warnings that Europe is now heading into a severe recession.
The wide difference between government strategies in tackling COVID-19 has led to criticism and confusion on which is the best approach.
A wide range of countries including Sweden and France have also restricted large gatherings of people.
Madrid accounts for just under half of Spain’s roughly 2,200 cases of coronavirus and more than 30 people in the region have died from the virus. “
France has banned meetings of more than 1,000 people, told people to stop visiting old people’s homes and closed schools in various parts of the country.
Germany has recommended the cancellation of all events attended by more than 1,000 people. All schools and day-care centres will be closed until March 27.
In Poland all schools will be closed from Monday for two weeks and mass events cancelled. Cultural institutions such as museums, cinemas and operas have been shut.
So far, more than 127,000 people have contracted coronavirus, resulting in at least 4,718 deaths. 68,310 people have reportedly recovered.
United Kingdom: 596 confirmed cases and 10 deaths
There have been 596 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the U.K.
However, the actual number of people infected could be between 5,000 and 10,000, the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said.
10 people have now died in the UK after contracting COVID-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "the worst public health crisis for a generation".
Speaking after an emergency Cobra meeting, Mr Johnson said: "Some people compare it to seasonal flu, alas that is not right. Owing to the lack of immunity, this disease is more dangerous.”
"It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."
Despite the seriousness of the disease, the PM said there was no need to close schools at the moment, claiming “the scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good.”
The number of UK cases rose by more than 100 on Thursday, up from 456 on Wednesday – with 491 in England, 60 in Scotland, 20 in Northern Ireland and 25 in Wales.
As of 09:00 GMT, a total of 29,764 people had been tested for the virus in the UK.
China: 80,793 cases and 33,169 deaths
The birthplace of COVID-19, China has managed to rapidly de-escalate the threat of coronavirus within its borders.
China was quick to implement 14-day quarantine for people arriving from overseas, with the most stringent restrictions placed on those coming from countries with severe outbreaks, including Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan.
Its response to the virus included strict social distancing and more than one month of city-wide lockdowns of the coronavirus ground zero, Wuhan and surrounding areas.
Other measures implements included persistent body temperatures checks, the disinfection of vehicles, food delivery, and permits for only one person per household to leave the property.
Italy: 15,113 cases and 1, 016 deaths
Coronavirus has claimed 1,106 lives in Italy, with 188 people dying in the last 24 hours.
Italy is the world's worst-hit country after China.
Despite the surge in cases, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says he hopes his country will be the first in Europe to get over the emergency.
Italy has enforced full-scale lockdowns nationwide, with court action and fines threatened for people breaking imposed curfews.
Movement has been limited to urgent medical or professional need.
All shops are now closed, except for pharmacies and those stocking food.
Companies have been ordered to shut non-essential departments, a wide range of venues – from theatres to schools and hairdressers to museums – are also closed.
60 million residents have been told to stay in their homes in “social distancing” measures in order to curb the escalating health crisis.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country.
United States: 1,312 cases and 38 deaths
President Donald Trump has announced a sweeping ban on travel into the US.
All flights from Europe – excluding Britain and Ireland – have been immediated shut down as he promises to “confront” the virus head on.
Trump said: "We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.”
"This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history."
New York Governor Cuomo announced closure of public gatherings of 500 or more in New York City.
He also revealed plans to test 5,000 Americans per day for COVID-19.
A growing number of colleges and universities across the U.S. have cancelled classes.
Coachella was set to take place next month in the California desert but it has now been postponed it until October, at the request of local health authorities.
Iran: 10,075 cases and 429 deaths
Iran is now the worst infected country in the Middle East and the third worldwide, following China and Italy.
Public gatherings, including Friday prayers in Tehran and other major cities, have been cancelled.
Schools have been closed and crews of cleaners have been dispatched to disinfect trains, buses and gathering places.
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