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No sign of coronavirus abating in Europe as movement restrictions increase

Across Europe restrictions on movement are being stepped up almost everywhere. Credit: AP

There is no sign of coronavirus abating in Europe, in fact numbers continue to rise relentlessly. And so does the response, with restrictions on movement being stepped up almost everywhere.

This is a brief summary of the latest development on the continent in the last 24 hours.

Italy

Things are not letting up in Italy, although the are not getting noticeably worse either, and that I suppose is progress.

Figures released on Tuesday show 345 new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,503.

A patient in a biocontainment unit is carried on a stretcher from an ambulance arrived at the Columbus Covid 2 Hospital in Rome. Credit: AP

There have been 3,526 new cases. New cases are up slightly, deaths down by a handful, but for a second day running no sign of the exponential rises in both numbers that we were seeing last week.

The authorities there will be desperately hoping that their lockdown of the entire country may finally mean that the figures have at least plateaued, but it will be several days more before they can have any confidence of that.

The continuing worry is that there are more than 2,000 people listed as serious or critical, people who are overwhelming the intensive care beds of even the best hospitals.

Medical staff check papers at an emergency tent set up outside a hospital in northern Italy. Credit: AP

France

France went into lockdown as of midday on Tuesday 17 March.

Very strict restrictions on movement, with citizens who need to be out and about required to carry a printed pass giving the reason. There has been nothing like this in France since the wartime occupation.

These measures will stay in place for at least 15 days, with President Macron declaring that “we are at war”.

Police officers wearing protective masks check papers at a control point at the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. Credit: AP

But along with the big stick, he announced a massive €300bn boost to the economy to mitigated the effects.

Macron promised no business will be allowed to go bust, and that nobody will have to pay rent, gas water and electricity bills for the duration.

One additional piece of news is the French Open tennis at Roland Garros has been postponed until 20 September. What that does for the rest of the tennis calendar is anyone's guess.

Spain's Rafael Nadal playing at the French Open in 2019. Credit: AP

Spain

Spain has seen another big rise in deaths, with the total now at 509 people, up 174 in the last 24 hours - 19 of those dead are from a single retirement home near Madrid.

The country remains in total lockdown, with the Government there also announcing a huge spending package - €200bn this time - to try and keep the economy afloat.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has tentatively suggested that a vaccine may be ready by the autumn.

Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel speak after a video-conference with G7 leaders at the European Council building in Brussels on Monday. Credit: AP

EU money is being thrown at European companies, particularly CureVac in Germany, to develop a vaccine.

Poland

Poland is under pressure to allow citizens of the Baltic states to cross its border with Germany in order to return home.

Many travellers are reported to have been stuck on the German Polish frontier for three nights now.

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