National authorities released 499 new deaths from the disease on Tuesday in just 24 hours, up from 240 seven days ago.
A further 458 people were admitted to intensive care units for treatment, bringing the total to over 5,000. It includes 68 people under the age of 30.
The country has more than 52,000 confirmed cases of the virus and is moving patients from the most affected areas of the east and the capital Paris to other hospitals across the country.
The director of the national health agency, Jérome Salômon, said on Monday that they expect quarantine measures to start having an effect soon, but hospitals in the east and center of the country are highly saturated.
He appealed to local doctors with experience in intensive care units to join the ranks of those on the front line.
Western Europe has been particularly affected by the epidemic.
Spain announced on Tuesday a new dark record in the number of people killed by the coronavirus. Its latest daily bulletin announced 849 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 8,189 deaths overall.
Confirming the worst day on record since the start of the epidemic, authorities said the number of new infections had increased by more than 9,000 in one day. The increase is 3,000 more than the day before.
It brings the total number of confirmed cases to more than 94,000, an increase of more than 8,000 in 24 hours.
It is a blow to a country whose health services have been overwhelmed by the pandemic in many areas. Spain is in the third week of a national lockout and other traffic restrictions have been announced this weekend.
There are now more than 800,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide.
In summary: main developments of the coronavirus
Poland imposes new traffic restrictions
Poland announced new measures to restrict travel in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, including closing non-essential businesses, limiting the number of people in a store and warning to stay two meters from others .
The new measures also include restrictions for minors under the age of 18 who can only go out accompanied by an adult.
“We want to avoid at all costs what has happened to our partners in Western Europe,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, citing Italy and Spain.
There are currently more than 2,000 cases of coronavirus in Poland, far fewer than in other European countries.
“Encouraging” news from Italy
The death toll in Italy rose Tuesday by 837, to a total of 12,428 dead, authorities said.
But after almost three weeks of a foreclosure, there were encouraging signs that the measures could work in the country.
On Monday, the increase in new positive cases has never been lower, with an increase of 4%, half as much as four days ago (8.3%) and four times less than two weeks ago.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic in Italy, the number of people currently positive in Lombardy, the region most affected, has decreased (25,006 against 25,392 Sunday).
In addition, the number of people considered healed across the country (1,590) has never been higher in a daily report.
“We can hope to reach the peak in seven or ten days, then, reasonably, a drop in the contagion,” said Deputy Minister of Health Pierpaolo Sileri on Monday.
Officials said they could witness a flattening of the curve, but called on people to continue to follow the lockout measures.
Europe has more cases
Germany announced 128 new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 583. Cases increased by 4,615 in 24 hours, bringing the total to 61,913, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
The relatively low numbers of victims of the virus in the country have been attributed to important early tests. However, the numbers are expected to increase when deaths in retirement homes are included, said the RKI chief.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the number of deaths was estimated at 1,789 on Tuesday after recording the largest one-day increase – 381 deaths – since the start of the epidemic.
King’s College Hospital, London, announced that a “13-year-old boy who tested positive for COVID-19 has died”.
A call posted on the GoFunMe crowdfunding platform by Madinah College, named him Ismail, and said he had “no pre-existing health conditions.”
He is said to be the youngest victim of COVID-19 in the UK.
The country’s national medical director, Stephen Powis, had previously said that it was too early to say whether the measures worked but that there were “green shoots”.
UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said on Monday that the country’s foreclosure measures “made a difference”. However, the government has come under heavy criticism for its lack of testing and for poor supplies of medical equipment such as respirators and masks.
The government, under pressure from its readiness level, has announced that a few thousand fans will be delivered to the NHS next week and that several companies are working to produce more.
Minister Michael Gove, who chaired the daily press conference from Downing Street, also defended the country’s weak testing capabilities, arguing that other countries were facing the same problem.
Watch the British government’s press conference in the video player below.
Also in Europe:
- A plane carrying a million masks and other medical supplies, including virus detection equipment, arrived in Lisbon on Monday from China. Portugal registered 140 deaths and 6,408 cases of coronavirus on Monday.
- Czech authorities plan to convert a Prague brothel into a homeless shelter during the crisis, AP reported.
- Low-cost airline EasyJet said it is immobilizing its entire fleet of planes.
- Austrian buyers will have to wear masks in supermarkets, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Monday.
It may be too early to say if Italy and Spain have reached the top
Spain, Italy and the UK have much more “widespread” problems, making it difficult to know if the peak is still reached, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) said of their responses to reporters.
Dr. Mike Ryan, who heads the WHO health emergencies program, said the peak went up and down in Wuhan before it was reached.
But he said that today’s cases are really those that were contracted two weeks ago.
He added that it is important not only to go beyond the peak, but to test and search for cases and isolate them in order to aggressively reverse the epidemic.
“The question is how to go down and go down is not just about locking and letting go. To get the numbers down, not just stabilize, you need to step up public health efforts to bring it down, “said Ryan, hoping that Italy and Spain were almost there.
He said he informed that all suspected cases were tested and isolated in a medical facility. They also said that the contacts should be quarantined and ideally not at home.
Most of the transmission is now done at home, said the WHO expert, explaining that contacts had to be found so that sick people could be removed from the home.
Ongoing clinical trials
There is currently no vaccine to treat the deadly disease and the WHO has said it is “still in 12 to 18 months.”
WHO experts also reiterated on Monday that more research is needed to determine whether antimalarial drugs, including chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, are effective in fighting the deadly virus, as suggested by some doctors.
“There are a number of clinical trials going on with chloroquine,” WHO’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkove said on Monday.
“The challenge is that many of these trials are small, making it difficult to draw conclusions, which is why it is important that we have these larger trials,” she added.
The National Agency for Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) warned on Monday that certain drugs currently being tested on patients including hydroxychloroquine should never be self-administered at home.
He called on doctors not to prescribe them to people suspected of being infected with the virus, stressing that they should only be administered to COVID-19 patients in hospital “as part of ongoing clinical trials” .
“Several cases of undesirable side effects have been reported and are being analyzed,” said ANSM in a statement, the head of the agency told AFP news agency that “three deaths” had been reported.