Coronavirus: Europe now the epicentre, WHO says

The World Health Organization said on Friday (local time) that Europe has become the "epicentre" of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Saturday morning (NZ time), more than 137,000 confirmed cases from 123 countries have been reported and 5000 people have been killed - statistics which WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called a "tragic milestone".

"Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. More cases are now being reported everyday than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic," Ghebreyesus said during the daily briefing in Geneva.

Ghebreyesus urged all countries to take a "comprehensive approach" of testing, contact tracing, quarantine, social distancing.

"Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks that won't happen to us is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to any country," he said.

Also on Friday, the WHO launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to allow individuals and organisations to contribute.


More than 137,500 people have been infected globally and over 5000 have died.

Mainland China had eight new cases by Thursday, down from 15 cases a day earlier. That brings the total number of cases in mainland China to 80,813. The death toll touched 3176, up by seven from the previous day.


Poland has reported its first death from coronavirus. So far, 47 cases have been confirmed in the country.

Greece reported its first fatality, a 66 year-old-man who had returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt at the end of February.

Italy's death toll from the coronavirus epidemic shot past 1000 as the economic impact worsened. The total number of infections rose to 15,113.

The number of confirmed cases across the UK rose 29 percent to 590 in the past 24 hours. Ten people have died.

The death toll in France rose to 61 from Wednesday's 48. The country will close all nurseries, schools and universities from Monday.

Turkish schools will be closed for one week and universities for three weeks from March 16 and sports events will be held without spectators until end-April.

Austria will deny entry to people arriving from Italy, ban indoor events of more than 100 people and close schools from next week until April.

Bulgaria plans to declare a state of emergency as the country's confirmed cases rose sharply to 23.

Ukraine said it would restrict mass events and close schools and universities in capital Kiev.


US President Donald Trump ordered the suspension of European travel to the United States for 30 days to help curb the spread of a coronavirus pandemic.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in isolation for two weeks after his wife, Sophie, tested positive on Thursday. The country on Thursday reported 138 confirmed cases, a 34 percent increase from Wednesday and a three-fold gain from a week ago.


South Korea reported more recoveries than new infections on Friday for the first time since its outbreak emerged in January. The country recorded 110 new cases, compared with 114 a day earlier, taking the national tally to 7979.

A female diplomat from the Philippines mission to the United Nations tested positive on Thursday.

An 80-year-old man became the fourth patient in Hong Kong to die due to the virus.

China's Hubei province said public transport workers in Wuhan and those engaged in making medical supplies and daily necessities could return to work along with some industries that impact national or global supply chains.

India said it will suspend a vast majority of visas to the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Japan's total infections rose to 1380.

Thailand reported five new coronavirus cases, bringing the total cases to 75.

Weeks after Vietnam declared that all its 16 cases had recovered, the number of infections is on the rise following a flight from Britain.

Middle East and Africa

Saudi Arabia detected 17 new cases, 11 of whom were Egyptians.

Iran on Thursday reported 75 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 429 in the worst-hit country in the Middle East.

Gabon and Ghana confirmed their first cases on Thursday, becoming the ninth and 10th countries in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases.

South Africa reported its first case of local transmission of the coronavirus on Thursday.


Australia's government said it would pump AU$17.6 billion into the economy to prevent the outbreak from pushing the country into its first recession in nearly 30 years.