Dutch recall 600,000 faulty Chinese masks and Germany takes patients from France
Spain has has joined Italy and France in demanding that Europe do more to help as it reported another record single-day increase in coronavirus deaths and moved to further tighten its already strict national lockdown.
Spanish authorities said on Sunday 838 people had died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the countrys death toll to 6,528, with 78,797 confirmed cases. All non-essential workers are being ordered to stay at home for two weeks from Monday.
Fernando Simn, head of Spains centre for health emergencies, said the situation was stabilising, but the main problem is making sure intensive care units arent overloaded. ICUs in six of Spains 17 autonomous regions were at full capacity.
Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, taking its total to 10,779. The rate slowed for a second day, while new confirmed cases rose by 5.6% to 3,815. This was the lowest increase of the epidemic so far, offering some hope that it may be nearing its peak there.
Spain and Italy account for more than half of the worlds death toll from Covid-19 and are each still seeing hundreds of deaths a day. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the virus has now infected more than 680,000 people and killed more than 32,000 around the world.
Spains prime minister, Pedro Snchez, described the crisis as the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and said the 27-member bloc had to be ready to rise to the challenge Its Europes time to act. Europe is at risk.
Italys prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, late on Saturday also urged Europe to show it was capable of responding. I will fight to the last drop of sweat, the last gram of energy, to obtain a strong, vigorous, cohesive European response, he said.
The countrys deputy health minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, told the BBC he expected the country to hit its infection peak in a week or 10 days at most, while Frances Europe minister, Amlie de Montchalin, said blocs credibility and usefulness rested on its collective response to the health crisis.
Spain, Italy and France have six others have asked the EU to issue coronabonds a collective debt instrument to help finance countries response to the pandemic, but the Netherlands, Austria and Germany have so far rejected the idea.
Several European countries have turned to China, where the epidemic originated but is now easing, for much needed medical supplies such as protective masks and testing kits.
But after Spain on Friday withdrew 58,000 Chinese-made coronavirus testing kits on discovering that they had an accuracy rate of just 30%, the Netherlands which has recorded 771 deaths, with more than 10,000 confirmed cases on Sunday recalled 600,000 Chinese face masks that were also found to be defective.
France, which has reported 2,606 deaths in French hospitals and 40,174 cases excluding fatalities in its 7,000 retirement homes, evacuated 36 more patients from the hard-hit east to western areas on Sunday, hoping to free up intensive care units.
Two high-speed trains carried patients from Mulhouse and Nancy toward hospitals along Frances western coast, where the outbreak has been limited so far. We have to free up beds. Its absolutely crucial that we air out these intensive care units, said Francois Brun, head of emergency services at the regional hospital in Metz.
A German military plane was also used to carry patients from Alsace to hospitals in Stuttgart and Ulm. Nearly 4,300 patients are in intensive care in France, which is racing to treble its ICU bed capacity from about 5,000.
In other developments:
Moscow went into full lockdown: no one to leave the house except to go to the nearest shop or pharmacy or walk pets up to 100m from the house.
Patrick Devedjian, a former French cabinet minister and prominent local politician, died in hospital after being tested positive. He was 75.
Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germanys Hesse state, took his own life apparently after becoming deeply worried about how to cope with the economic fallout from the epidemic.
The main opposition candidate in Polish presidential elections called for the vote to be boycotted if the government insists on going ahead with it on 10 May.
Pope Francis called for a ceasefire in all conflicts around the globe to focus on the fight of our lives against Covid-19.
Egypt shut its beaches as cases in the Middle East surpassed 50,000.
Australias prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced further restrictions including limiting public gatherings to just two people.
All travellers entering South Korea will face two weeks of mandatory quarantine starting at midnight next Wednesday.
Tokyo confirmed 68 new coronavirus cases, another record daily increase.
China continued to relax restrictions, with flights from Hubei province and tube and bus services in Wuhan city, the centre of the outbreak, resuming this weekend.
Irans president, Hassan Rouhani, said on Sunday that the new way of life in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as the countrys death toll rose to 2,640 and its number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309. We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, he said.