THE World Health Organisation has said Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Chief, said that the number of deaths surpassing 5,000 was a “tragic milestone” and that it is “impossible” to predict the peak of the deadly virus.
The WHO chief told reporters in Geneva this afternoon that it was time for the world to respond seriously to the virus.
He said: “More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.
“Our message to countries continues to be: you must take a comprehensive approach.
“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 anyone.”
“Even if you cannot stop COVID-19 transmission, you can slow it down and save lives.”
He also announced the launch of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which will help raise money to combat the virus.
Dr Ghebreyesus added: “Until now, we have been relying mainly on governments to support the COVID19 response.
“Now everyone can contribute.
“Funds raised will be used to coordinate the response, to buy masks, gloves, gowns and goggles for health workers, to buy diagnostic tests, to improve surveillance, and to invest in research and development.”
Just yesterday, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
The number of COVID-19 victims in Iran has hit 429, and is the centre of one of the world’s worst outbreaks.
In Italy, which is on lockdown, the number of deaths exceeded 1,000 on Thursday with over 15,000 cases confirmed.
It also emerged today that Italian medical chief Roberto Stella, who had been dealing with the coronavirus, died of the disease aged 67.
Spain has also declared a state of emergency, with clubs in Ibiza and Majorca closed down and Brits warned against all but essential travel to certain areas.
Schools have now been shut down in countries across Europe including France, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania Algeria and Slovakia.
And France has considered closing its borders in a bid to stop the pandemic.
Last night President Emmanuel Macron called the COVID-19 outbreak the “worst health crisis in a century,” and if borders had to be closed, the country would do so in line with the rest of the EU.
This is a huge jump of 189 extra cases from the earlier figure of 609 people known to have COVID-19.
In the last 24 hours the UK has seen an enormous 35 per cent increase in cases of the deadly virus.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson has postponed local and mayoral elections for a year due to fears over COVID-19.