The global outbreak is now moving faster in Europe than it is in Asia.
Topline: France on Saturday became the latest European country to close all non-essential businesses to combat the coronavirus pandemic—it joins Italy, which instituted a country-wide lockdown on Wednesday, and Spain, which is also expected to declare a lockdown this weekend, in enacting official measures to enforce “social distancing” practices to deter the spread of the virus.
- In Europe, “more cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference on Friday.
- France’s order will apply to restaurants, bars, cafes, movie theaters and nightclubs but not grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies.
- Spain is also expected to declare a nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the virus, according to news reports on Saturday; bars, restaurants, and many other businesses have already been ordered to close in and around Madrid.
- New Zealand has introduced a 14-day self-isolation period for anyone entering the country, effective as of midnight on Sunday.
- President Trump announced on Saturday that he will expand wide-ranging travel restrictions, already in place for the 26 European countries in the Schengen Area, to include the U.K. and Ireland.
- In Asia, however, the virus appears to be slowing down: South Korea reported yesterday that it has seen more recoveries than new cases for the first time since the outbreak began.
Big number: Coronavirus cases in France have more than doubled in the last 72 hours to 4,500, according to the New York Times. Italy has the most cases in Europe with 21,156, according to Johns Hopkins, followed by Spain with 6,023.
Crucial quote: “I make no apologies,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said after announcing the country’s new quarantine measures. “This is an unprecedented time.” Arden said that New Zealand will have the “widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world.” Currently, New Zealand has 5 confirmed cases of the virus.
Key background: According to Johns Hopkins, there are currently 154,219 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and there have been 5,789 deaths so far. In the U.S., the outbreak has now spread to 49 states. On Friday, President Trump declared a national state of emergency that will free up $50 billion in funding for relief efforts in the United States. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced on Friday that the House of Representatives and the Trump administration had reached a deal on a coronavirus relief package that is expected to direct tens of billions of dollars to address the pandemic, including provisions for free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave and food assistance for Americans in need. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill early next week.