- Schools are closed, mass gatherings banned, self-quarantines suggested ... European countries have been adopting various measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as more infections are reported.
Italy continues to be the worst hit European country and some other countries have seen their cases of infection more than doubled in the past 24 hours.
CASES SHOOT UP
Italy reported 590 more confirmed cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 3,296. On top of the figure, 148 patients have died and 414 have recovered.
Among the 3,296 people tested positive for the virus, some 1,155 are currently under house confinement, 1,790 in hospital and 351 in intensive care.
In a statement on Thursday, Italy's Superior Institute of Health said that the average age of death cases is 81, and more than two-thirds of them had three or more pre-existing diseases.
The number of infections in the Netherlands has increased from 38 to 82, Dutch Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins announced on Thursday, adding that the increase can partly be explained by the fact that people who have had symptoms for some time now report to their doctors.
The World Port Boxing event, originally scheduled for April 4 in Rotterdam, is the first professional sports event that has been canceled in the Netherlands due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of the new Dutch patients have recently visited northern Italy, according to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
The Beatrix hospital in the southern Dutch city of Gorinchem started to receive new patients on Thursday after it shut down last weekend as a patient in intensive care turned out to be infected with the coronavirus.
In Belgium, 27 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday, according to a statement issued Thursday by the Federal Public Health Service, bringing the total to 50.
Most of the new Belgian patients returned from Italy, where they had spent holidays. With mild symptoms of respiratory tract infections, some are isolated and treated at home, while others are treated in specialized hospitals.
In Belgium's two populous neighbors -- Germany and France -- the situation is no less alarming.
There were 400 cases confirmed in Germany as of 15:00 local time (1400 GMT) Thursday, up by 138 from a day earlier. But Germany could pride itself on the zero fatality.
France has confirmed 423 cases, 138 more than a day ago. Seven people have died of the disease as of Thursday.
French Health General Director Jerome Salomon said on Thursday that France remains at stage 2 of its epidemic trajectory and the health authorities' objective is to slow down the virus spread and put off the transition to stage 3.
VARIOUS MEASURES ADOPTED
So far, Italy has introduced the toughest measures in Europe, temporarily closing all schools and universities despite over 80 percent of the cases have been identified in its northern regions, where 11 towns have been under entire quarantine.
"The public health system risks to be overloaded, and we would face problems with intensive care and sub-intensive care units, in case an exponential crisis continues," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced following a cabinet meeting late Wednesday.
The suspension of schools and universities will affect 8.6 million pupils and 1.7 million university students, who will have to attend remote classes via internet.
In Britain, school pupils who have visited northern Italy during their winter holidays are encouraged to be self-quarantined at home for 14 days until they are cleared of the disease.
France has called off all mass gatherings of more than 5,000 attendants, whereas Germany has not considered it an option.
The question about discrepancy in the response criteria was raised more than once at the daily European Union briefings. A spokesman said on Thursday that the decisions taken by national authorities correspond to varying situations on the ground and the European Commission will ensure coherence as much as possible.
At a daily briefing in Geneva on Thursday, Maria van Kerkhove, technical lead of the Health Emergencies Program of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that everyone in China knows their role in the epidemic as well as what they need to do collectively to bring the epidemic under control.
China's experience has shown fundamental measures do work to contain COVID-19, such as identifying cases and contacts, as well as mobilizing population, said the senior WHO epidemiologist, calling on countries to make full use of them.
(责编： 海洋 )