Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates
On the day that the coronavirus claimed 350,000 infections worldwide, the news from Italy is better, from Spain much worse.
Overall the World Health Organisation says the pandemic is accelerating. They say that the world took 67 days to reach its first 100,000 cases; the second 100,000 took just 11 days; the third 100K just four days.
It looks as if the curve may be turning. At the very least no longer climbing. Monday's figures show 4,790 new cases, down from yesterday, and 602 deaths in the last 24 hours, again a small reduction from Sunday.
The last four days’ infection figures read approximately 6,000, 6,500, 5,500, 4,750. The last four days death figures read 793, 651, 602.
The beginning of this week is when epidemiologists predicted Italy would hit the peak. Sixty million Italians are praying they were right, and that from here on the direction of travel is downwards.
The country is fast catching Italy, with no sign of a peak being reached there yet. Monday's figures are dreadful: 434 more dead and 4,321 new cases in the last 24 hours. That’s a 27% increase on the day before, and comes despite a nationwide lockdown having been in place for more than nine days already.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez immediately announced that the lockdown would have to stay in place until at least April 11th, with officials in Madrid expecting a peak in both deaths and infections this week.
All flights from the UK and Turkey have been banned as of Monday morning on the basis of the spread of the virus in these countries. The move is being seen there as reflecting dissatisfaction with the way the London is handling this crisis.
Greek borders were already shut to all except their own citizens or permanent residents. Aegean Airlines, the country’s biggest carrier, has suspended all international flights with the exception of occasional shuttles to and from Brussels.
The total number of deaths in Greece has now reached 17.
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Finance Ministers have agreed that debt and deficit rules set down in the Growth and Stability Pact are to be set aside, allowing members states to spend and borrow what is required to “protect our economies”. Separately EU leaders have confirmed a Commission proposal to ban most foreigners from entering the EU for 30 days. UK citizens will not be affected.
There is cause for concern with plans to give the Government power to rule by decree indefinitely. Anyone publishing “false or distorted information” would be liable to five years in prison.
A a sigh of relief is being breathed as it is announced that Angela Merkel has tested negative for the coronavirus. She has been self-isolating since one of her doctors tested positive.
The head of the country’s public health institute says the latest figures suggest Germany’s infection curve could be flattening, though nothing will be sure until Wednesday.
The Health Service Executive says that an astonishing 60,000 people have volunteered for its “Be on call for Ireland” campaign. These are made up of health service professionals, those in training or who’ve left the profession.