On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus a pandemic. What started in a Chinese wet-market has spread across the world, infecting populations everywhere with disease and fear. Everyday lives are changing, as lockdowns and travel bans have been imposed.
From the United States, President Trump extended his travel ban from 26 countries in the European Union to include the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
On 13 March, only two days after the WHO’s declaration, Europe was named the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO’s director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged all nations of the world to impose aggressive measures and social distancing, in order to save lives.
Many European countries have seen a drastic increase in confirmed cases and deaths.
After the start of a nationwide lockdown, Italy has confirmed 21,000 cases, with 1,400 deaths. Spain is falling close behind.
SpainOn Saturday, 14 March, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared Spain to be in state of emergency. After the Spanish transition to becoming a democracy in 1975, this will be the second time the nation has declared a state of emergency. After making this declaration, Sánchez discussed implementing emergency measures, during this meeting with his cabinet in Madrid.Starting on Monday at 08.00, Spain will begin a 15-day national lockdown, in an attempt to battle the Coronavirus. Following behind Italy, as the second most infected country in Europe, the Spanish government hopes to halt the virus in its tracks. With over six thousand confirmed cases and a death toll of 191, the Spanish people will only be allowed out of their homes for emergency situations, to buy food or to go to work. Public transportation will also experience a cut back. Airlines, trains buses and boats must cut back on services by at least half of all operations. All planes, trains, buses and all other means of transportation can only be a third full of their normal maximum capacity.
Even more dramatic, Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias attended Saturday’s meeting, despite coming in contact with an infected colleague and breaking his self-quarantine. Although Iglesias did not test positive for the virus, extreme sanitary measures had to be taken after his appearance. Irene Montero and Carolina Darias, two Spanish ministers ill with the virus, did not attend.
Before the meeting, local governments have taken measures into their own hands. Especially in the Madrid area, most bars, restaurants and shops had already been closed. However, Sánchez’s announcement will affect all of Spain’s 46 million citizens.
Mayor Juan Espadas Cejas of Seville has suspended Seville’s Easter festivities.
Catalan regional leader Quid Torra would like to seal of the entire region of Catalonia.
Along with these measures, all travel to and from Spain has been suspended, except for essential travel. This was exemplified when airline Jet2 turned planes around, mid-air, on Saturday accompanying the cancellation of flights.
Nations all over the world have been following in Italy’s footsteps, attempting to protect their health systems and stop the virus.
FranceWith at 3,600 infections in France, Paris has followed most other major cities, shutting town museums and monuments. France has closed all non-essential shops and public places, like restaurants, cafés and theaters. All public gatherings of more than 100 people are not permitted to run. All schools have been closed, and the government has urged companies to allow employees to work from home. These restrictions are set to begin today, 15 March. Despite these restrictions, France continues to plan for nationwide elections. However, they are setting up measures to keep all surfaces sanitized and to keep all people at a safe distance from each other.In Britain, the death increasingly raises and has hit 21 persons, with a confirmed number of cases amounting at more than 1,100. Ireland has only seen a single death, related to the virus. The nation has a total of 90 confirmed cases. As numbers rose in Greece, the Greek government implemented similar restrictions, as to those seen in Italy, Paris and now Spain. 45 shopkeepers were arrested yesterday, 14 March, in violation of these restrictions.
The Greek death toll has reached three persons, and 230 people have been infected.
The United States has now entered the game, with 59 deaths and more than 2,100 cases. Despite relief efforts from the federal government, medical supplies and protective gear are starting to run low for medical professionals.
Rumors have been circulating around that United States’ President Donald Trump has contracted the virus from colleagues and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. However, Trump’s personal physician debunked the rumor on Saturday, 14 March, stating that the U.S. president tested negative for the virus.
Now known as the COVID-19 epicentre, European nations have taken steps to isolate themselves from their neighbors.
Denmark has closed their borders, allowing nobody in or out of the country. Unless a person has legitimate reason for entering the country, like Danish citizens or residents, they will be turned away at the border.
Poland has also closed their borders, and only citizens or persons with personal ties to the country are allowed to enter. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have implemented similar policies. Lithuania, on the other hand, are only enforcing border checks at the borders shared with Poland and Latvia.
Starting today, 15 March, Russia will be closing their shared boarders with Norway and Poland.
From the Middle East, the world is watching as the number of Iran’s death toll and confirmed cases rise. Almost 13,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, including several senior government officials, and 611 deaths have been linked to the virus.
Despite an open border, New Zealand has implemented a strict 14-day self-quarantine for anyone coming into the country, including citizens. Only a few exceptions can be made for this rule.
In China, the birthplace of the Coronavirus, the spread of COVID-19 has slowed. Despite reporting thousands of new cases every day only one month ago, on Saturday, 14 March, the commission announced that there were only 13 new deaths and 11 new cases. This includes people, who arrived in China from affected countries like Italy. Wuhan is now the only city in the Hubei region with a high-risk label. Other than that, China is seeing a gradual increase in the reopening and operation of public transportation, businesses, parks, museums and galleries.