More than 75,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Europe, with 80 percent of the fatalities occurring in Italy, Spain, France and Britain, according to an AFP tally at 0945 GMT Sunday compiled from official sources.
With a total of 75,011 deaths from 909,673 infections, Europe is the hardest-hit continent in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 109,133 people worldwide.
Europe’s most affected country is Italy with 19,468 deaths, followed by Spain with 16,972, France with 13,832 and Britain with 9,875.
Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus rose to 619 on Sunday, after falling for three straight days, the government said.
The daily toll was from 510 on Saturday, compared with a record 950 deaths as recently as April 2.
The number of confirmed cases rose by 4,167 to 166,019, a smaller increase than was recorded on Saturday, the health ministry said.
Although health chiefs say the pandemic has peaked, they have urged the population to strictly follow a national lockdown which was put in place on March 14 in order to slow the spread of the virus.
The restrictions — which prevent people from going outside except to go to work if they can not do so from home, buy food, seek medicine and briefly walk their dog — will remain in place until April 25 although the government has made clear it expects to announce another two-week extension.
Masks will be handed out at metro and train stations from Monday as some companies re-open after a two-week “hibernation” period, the Spanish health minister said Friday.
Meanwhile, Britain’s tally of confirmed cases has climbed close to 80,000, but that is thought to be only a snapshot of the true level of infections due to limited testing for the virus.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday evening released a brief statement that appeared to underline that his medical situation was far worse than ministers and Downing Street aides had conveyed.
“I can’t thank them enough, I owe them my life,” Johnson said in a statement thanking staff at Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) after his second full day out of intensive care at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed Saturday that 19 NHS staff had died from COVID-19 as the government was forced to defend its rollout of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff during the pandemic.
In addition, there is reportedly growing evidence it is having a disproportionate impact on people from minority backgrounds, who make up a large proportion of the NHS workforce.
Research suggests that more than a third of critically ill coronavirus patients in British hospitals are black, Asian or from another ethnic minority, according to the BBC.