The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that seven in ten deaths due to the new coronavirus pandemic are in Europe.
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Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, made the announcement at a press conference in Geneva, saying about 60 percent of cases infected by the deadly virus worldwide were also reported in Europe.
According to an AFP tally, a total of 15,500 fatalities have been reported across Europe, most of them in Italy with 8,165 people and Spain with 4,089, followed by France with 1,331.
With 268,191 officially declared positive cases, Europe is the continent worst hit by the coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year.
Kluge also cautioned governments and citizens to be aware of the "new reality" created by the pandemic and prepare for the long term impact, saying, "This is not going to be a sprint, this is going to be a marathon.”
The novel coronavirus, a respiratory disuse known as the COVID-19, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, incrementally infecting some 185 countries across the world.
More than 533,000 people worldwide have so far been infected with the virus and over 24,000 have died, according to a running count by worldometers.info.
As the new coronavirus shows no signs of stopping, many European countries have adopted severe measures to contain the outbreak, including imposing lockdown measures and closing businesses and borders, as well as limiting public gatherings.
Citizens in Austria, Belgium, Britain, The Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Spain have been ordered to stay at home except for medical attention, exercise or essential shopping.
In Spain, the second worst-hit country in Europe after Italy, the confinement has been extended to April 11, and in Austria till April 13.
French authorities are also expected to announce an extension of the ongoing confinement until April 28.
Romania has declared a state of emergency, and a curfew is in place in Serbia. Finland is scheduled to impose isolation on its capital and other high-risk provinces across the country from Friday to April 19.
This comes as the European Union has since March 17 imposed an entry ban on travelers from outside the bloc for an initial period of 30 days, with limited exceptions.
Moreover, government authorities in Germany and Poland have banned public gatherings of more than two people.
Elsewhere in Europe, the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK jumped on Thursday by more than 100 in a single-day tally for the first time.
British health officials confirmed that the death toll has risen from 475 to 578, with the number of confirmed cases standing at 11,658.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents the heads of hospital trusts in the state-run National Health Service, said there had been an "explosion of demand" in the capital.
Chris Hopson told BBC radio that hospital bosses said there had been "wave after wave after wave" of admissions of seriously ill patients, with a surge in numbers predicted in the coming weeks.
"The word that's often used to me is a sort of continuous tsunami," he added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Britons on Monday to stay home to halt the spread of the virus, imposing curbs on everyday life.
Additionally, the office of Britain’s Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to Queen Elizabeth II, said that he had tested positive for the coronavirus but was in good health and was self-isolating in Scotland. Official reports said on Thursday evening that the United States had more confirmed coronavirus cases than Italy and China, making it the country with the largest outbreak in the world.
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed that the total number of cases in the US had reached 82,404, eclipsing China’s 81,782 cases and Italy’s 80,589.
Despite a surge in the number of infections across the US, President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he planned to lift restrictions on public activities which were implemented to control COVID-19 before the middle of April.
The Trump administration has come under harsh criticism over the past weeks for failing to take appropriate measures to contain the now-global pandemic.
In Asia, the annual “Balikatan” military exercises between the Philippines and United States has been cancelled due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Nearly 11,000 Filipino and American soldiers, along with 50 participants from Australia, were supposed to gather for the drills in the Philippines in May.
“In light of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19 pandemic and in the best interest of the health and safety of both countries’ forces, it is prudent to cancel Balikatan 2020,” Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific, said.
Rear Admiral Adelius Bordado, a chief of the Philippines’ armed forces also confirmed the postponement.