Over 1,00,000 people across Europe have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, prompting European governments to unleash fresh measures.
More than 40 European countries have been hit by COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Italy, Spain, Germany and France were the four hardest-hit, with each reporting more than 10,000 confirmed cases, Xinhua reported.
In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday (19 March) that the nationwide lockdown, which has been in place from 10 March to 3 April to stem the spreading coronavirus, will be extended. Other government officials said further tightening on movement could be on the cards.
In Italy, a total of 427 COVID-19 patients had died in 24 hours, taking the country's death toll to 3,405, according to new data released on Thursday by the Civil Protection Department.
The cumulative number of coronavirus cases reached 41,035, making Italy the hardest-hit country outside China, since the epidemic first broke out in its north on 21 February.
Spain recorded the second-most cases among European countries after Italy. Spanish health authorities said the number of COVID-19 infections rose to 17,147 on Thursday, a 25-per cent increase on Wednesday''s figure of 13,716, with 767 deaths from the virus.
During a press conference, Health Minister Salvador Illa said Spain is approaching the peak in the number of COVID-19 cases. "We are reaching the hardest moments, in which we will see an increase in cases as we close in on the peak" of infections," he said.
Germany and France reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases on Thursday for the first time.
Data from Germany's disease control agency Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to 10,999 on Thursday, with 20 new deaths, bringing the death toll to over 40.
French Director General of Health Jerome Salomon announced on Thursday that France has detected 10,995 cases of coronavirus infection.
As many as 108 patients lost their lives in the past 24 hours, he noted, adding that 1,122 patients are currently in intensive care while 1,300 have recovered. He urged people to strictly respect the confinement order and cut contacts with others to curb the accelerating spread of the virus.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)