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WHO calls for actions to combat virus

WHO calls for actions to combat virus
A commuter crosses an empty Waterloo Bridge in London on Tuesday.
Copenhagen/ Paris/ Washington, Mar 17 (Agencies/ IANS/ AFP) | Publish Date: 3/17/2020 9:27:21 AM IST

The World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for Europe on Tuesday said there is a need for bold measures in all European countries, calling the continent the "epicentre" of the new coronavirus pandemic.

"Every country, with no exceptions, needs to take their boldest actions to stop or slow down the virus threat,"

"Every country, with no exceptions, needs to take their boldest actions to stop or slow down the virus threat," Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, told a press conference. "Thinking that 'this does not concern me,' is not an option," Hans Kluge said. Hans Kluge also said that the "good news" was that the region was "alert and on guard," noting that "preparedness-, readiness- and response measures" had been launched in all member states.

Since the virus first emerged in late December, 7,408 people have died around the world, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 180,000 cases had been confirmed worldwide on Tuesday.

The regional WHO director said that countries need to assess their own situation in order to decide which measures should be emphasised, as the outbreak is progressing at different speeds in different countries. WHO Europe includes 53 countries as diverse as Russia and Andorra, Germany and Tajikistan.

On Tuesday the outer borders of the 27-nation European Union and its Schengen passport free zone closed for 30 days.

France deploys 100,000 cops to enforce lockdown

 French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that some 100,000 police officers will be deployed across the country to secure the nationwide lockdown imposed to stem fast circulation of the coronavirus.

“The watchword is clear: stay home. It’s about containment measures following the model that Spain and Italy have put in place,” Xinhua news agency quoted Castaner as saying on Monday.

“You can get a breath of fresh air, but certainly not play football. Picnics in parks are strictly forbidden as are all group gatherings,” he stressed.

“As of this evening. I order the internal security forces to set up controls. Anyone who travel must be able to justify his journey. This also applies to pedestrians,” he added.

The Minister announced that 100,000 police and gendarmes would be mobilized and fixed checkpoints will be set up nationwide in a new attempt to beat coronavirus.

Under the new rules, people who do want to travel will need to fill in a document explaining their reasons for doing so and carry it with them.

If anyone was found to violate the instruction, they would be fined between 38 and 135 euros ($42-150).

“Our objective is not to sanction but to show a collective civic spirit to face the crisis,” Castaner said.

The government’s tough restriction came after pictures and videos posted on social media showed many people gathered for picnics in parks and at river banks, turning deaf ears to health authorities’ warning and ignoring instructions to strictly respect barrier gestures and limit journey to help stem the virus spread.


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