Life in Europe crippling, lockdowns not enough to defeat pandemic: WHO

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ROME From the elderly Italian woman who routinely lines up the glasses of water she sets herself to drink every day, to the British composer leading a virtual orchestra, life for Europeans under coronavirus lockdown is an uncharted mix of resilience and creativity. Hundreds of millions of people have suddenly undergone the biggest change to daily life since World War II as governments order them to stay at home in a bid to beat the disease. Amid disaster movie-like scenes of deserted streets, the main challenge for many is simply keeping up their spirits despite the boredom and isolation of being confined at home. Deaths from the coronavirus pandemic have topped 15,000 across the globe, according to anAFPtally compiled at 1100 GMT on Monday from official figures. A total of 15,189 deaths have been recorded, the majority in Europe with 9,197 fatalities. Italy is the hardest-hit country with 5,476 deaths, followed by China where the virus first emerged last year with 3,270, and Spain with 2,182. With a total of 1,395 new deaths reported in the past 24 hours out of 172,238 officially declared cases, Europe is now the continent where the virus is spreading the most rapidly. Countries can’t simply lock down their societies to defeat coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert said on Sunday, adding that there need to be public health measures to avoid a resurgence of the virus later on. ‘What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them,’ Mike Ryan said in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. ‘The danger right now with the lockdowns … if we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.’ More than one billion people have been asked to stay home in more than 50 countries and territories around the world as governments battle the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, according to an AFP tally Monday. Some countries such as France, Italy and Argentina have imposed mandatory lockdown measures, while others like Iran and Britain have issued stay-at-home recommendations to stem the spread of the virus.—Agencies

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