EU shuts borders as COVID-19 deaths exceed Asia toll

Updated: Mar 19, 2020, 09:18 IST | Agencies | Paris

Europe records 3,421 deaths — including 2,503 in Italy - leapfrogging Asia with 3,384 according to a latest tally

A policewoman checks documents of a cyclist in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Thursday. Pic/AFP
A policewoman checks documents of a cyclist in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Thursday. Pic/AFP

The European Union sealed off its borders on Wednesday to try to put the brakes on the ferocious spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as the number of deaths on the continent soared past the toll in Asia.

Millions of people are on strict lockdown in Europe, now the epicentre of COVID-19 with more than 3,400 deaths now recorded, according to an AFP tally.

The United States and Britain led a multi-billion-dollar global fightback against the economic havoc unleashed by COVID-19 but financial markets were unimpressed, with Asian and European stocks plunging further.

Governments across the world have imposed draconian measures to try to slow the pace of infections, confining people to their homes, closing shops, restaurants and schools, dramatically changing life as we know it.

The Coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting nearly 2,00,000 people and killing almost 8,000.

Europe has now recorded 3,421 deaths — including 2,503 in Italy — leapfrogging Asia with 3,384, according to an AFP tally at 1100 GMT.

As the spectre of a deep global recession looms large, London and Washington on Tuesday announced massive economic stimulus packages after coming under fire over their response to the crisis.

British finance minister Rishi Sunak unveiled an "unprecedented package" of government-backed loans worth 330 billion pounds for businesses struggling in the sudden economic paralysis caused by mass self-quarantine.

Similar measures have been introduced by France and Germany, the two leading members of the 27-member European Union.

Iran reports largest spike
Iran reported its single biggest jump in deaths from the Coronavirus on Wednesday as another 147 people died, raising the country's overall death toll to 1,135.

The nearly 15 per cent spike in deaths — amid a total of 17,361 confirmed cases in Iran, marks the biggest 24-hour rise in fatalities since officials first acknowledged cases of the virus in Iran in mid-February.

Still, even as the number of cases continues to grow each day, food markets were still packed with shoppers on Wednesday and highways were crowded with traffic as families travelled between cities ahead of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on Friday.

Iran's deputy health minister, Alireza Raisi, criticized people for not adhering to the warnings to stay home, saying the virus is very serious. "This is not a good situation at all," he said.

8,000
No. of people killed globally according to WHO

103-yr-old survives COVID-19: reports

A 103-year-old woman in Iran has recovered after being infected with the Coronavirus, state media reported, despite overwhelming evidence the elderly are most at risk from the disease. The unnamed woman had been hospitalised in the central city of Semnan for about a week, IRNA news agency said. But she was "discharged after making a complete recovery", Semnan University of Medical Sciences head Navid Danayi was quoted as saying by IRNA late Tuesday.

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