Europe Coronavirus
Europe Coronavirus
(Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

The World Health Organization warned on Friday that Europe was now the "epicentre" for the global coronavirus pandemic and is reporting more daily cases than China did at the height of its outbreak.

The WHO chief did not cite numbers but Europe's count has risen by around 16,000 since Monday - an average of 4,000 a day. At the height of the crisis in China in early February, Beijing was regularly reporting around 3,000 cases a day.

The UK's total number of cases soared to 798 on Friday, after 202 people were diagnosed in 24 hours. As the death toll in Britain mounted to 11, a palpable fear has gripped the UK -- car parks were empty and train stations and carriages were deserted. Boris Johnson has ramped up Number 10's response but has refused to shut schools like other European countries. Meanwhile, Scotland has recorded its first death.

Cases in Spain have soared to more than 4,200 in Europe's worst outbreak outside Italy. Bulgaria has declared a state of emergency and France has pledged to 'massively increase' its hospital capacity. Italy is already in a state of shutdown. 

SNEAKS INTO UN

Located in the middle of New York, even as the United Nations is hunkering down to meet the coronavirus threat, a diplomat has tested positive for the disease.

The Filipino diplomat had visited the UN for a meeting on Monday and had been in contact with two diplomats from another country, but not with UN staffers.

Nonetheless, the meeting room the diplomat had been in has undergone three cycles of cleaning and the medical service was reaching out to the two other diplomats, a spokesman said.

IVANKA ‘EXPOSED’

A senior Australian minister has tested positive and was placed under quarantine in a Brisbane hospital on Friday, days after his return from America where he met Ivanka Trump and US Attorney General William Barr.

A total of 196 coronavirus cases have been confirmed across Australia, while three people have died due to the disease in the country.

TRUDEAU WIFE TESTS POSITIVE

Justin Trudeau’s's wife has tested positive for coronavirus, his office said, while assuring the public that the Canadian prime minister is fine. Canada's leader and his 44-year-old wife have gone into a self-quarantine after she attended a public event.

Canada has so far reported nearly 150 cases in six states, and one death. Trudeau would continue his duties, his office said, and would address the country on Saturday.

BROADWAY BLINKS

Broadway will go dark for at least a month beginning Thursday, after the Governor of New York announced restrictions on public gatherings in an extraordinary step to fight the growing outbreak.

The decision is a blow to the theatre industry, a crown jewel of New York City’s tourist circuit. Last season, the industry drew 14.8 million patrons and grossed $1.8 billion. All 41 Broadway theatres have at least 500 seats, and most have more than 1,000.

EVEREST OFF LIMIT

This is strictly for mountaineering buffs. Nepal has cancelled all expeditions for the spring climbing season and stopped issuing tourist visas because of the virus.

And on China’s side of the mountain, several expedition companies said that China had closed one of the two main routes used by climbers, known as the northeast ridge. The pass is the less popular of the two and is in the autonomous region of Tibet.

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