Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic, the head of the World Health Organisation says.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.
“Do not just let this fire burn,” he said.
His comments came as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths. Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet.
There were 250 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.
Spain, the worst-affected European country after Italy, reported a 50% jump in fatalities to 120 on Friday. Infections increased to 4,231.
Controls are also being introduced at an increasing number of borders in Europe, in response to the rapid spread of the virus.
Why is Europe the ‘epicentre’?
More than 132,500 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in 123 countries around the world, according to the WHO.
The total number of deaths has reached about 5,000 – a figure Dr Tedros described as “a tragic milestone”.
“Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China,” he said.
“More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.”
As well as the increases in Spain and Italy, France has now confirmed 2,876 cases and 79 deaths, up from a total of 61 deaths on Thursday.
Germany has seen 3,062 cases and five deaths. There have been 798 confirmed infections in the UK and 11 deaths.
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