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Europe locks down 100million: Germany and Poland tighten border controls, France puts limits on public transport and Slovakia declares state of emergency as continent's virus death toll soars towards 2,000

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 15/03/2020 Jack Wright For Mailonline

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(Video by Press Association)

Coronavirus hysteria in Europe rumbles on as Poland's shut frontiers cause huge traffic jams in Germany and Ukraine - while Serbia and Slovakia went into lockdown and Portugal closed its border with Spain.

Popular cities across the Continent - from Spain and Germany to Ukraine and Serbia - resembled ghost towns as residents spooked into self-isolation refrained from visiting bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The various lockdowns are thought to be affecting 100 million across the continent.  

Chaotic scenes along the Polish frontiers with Frankfurt emerged, as hundreds of travellers were denied entry along the River Ober into western Poland, while others were tested for Covid-19 by Border officials.

a close up of a map: Coronavirus hysteria in Europe continued today on as Poland's shut frontiers cause huge traffic jams in Germany and Ukraine - while Serbia and Slovakia went into lockdown and Portugal closed its border with Spain © Provided by Daily Mail Coronavirus hysteria in Europe continued today on as Poland's shut frontiers cause huge traffic jams in Germany and Ukraine - while Serbia and Slovakia went into lockdown and Portugal closed its border with Spain Hundreds of vehicles lining the roads from Ukraine into Korczowa, southeastern Poland, were denied entry, causing massive queues, after the Polish Government closed its borders to foreigners.  

Travellers from the Czech Republic were turned away by Polish police in Hrádek nad Nisou, while flights out of Warsaw Chopin Airport and John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport were cancelled.

Passengers roamed empty departure lounges, though a small number of EasyJet and KLM 'rescue flights' were allowed to land to pick up foreigners as the country seeks to tackle the deadly contagion.  

Once-bustling streets in Gdansk and Lodz - lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops - were eerily quiet. Just handfuls of strollers risked walking along the beaches or pier in Sopot, Poland. 

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In the Balkans, the coronavirus panic infected Serbia, whose President declared a state of emergency to halt the spreading Covid-19 by shutting down public spaces and deploying the Army outside hospitals.

President Aleksandar Vucic, a populist who has ruled the tiny country since 2012, also closed Serbia's borders, as he declared the ongoing crisis a battle to 'save our elderly'.

He said: 'From tomorrow, there is no more school, no nurseries, no universities, everything closes, no training, sports... We will close down to save our lives, to save our parents, to save our elderly.'  

The decree falls short of the lockdown seen in harder-hit countries like Italy and Spain, with the Government in Belgrade asking those over the age of 65 to self-isolate. So far, 48 infections have been recorded.   

As the coronavirus fallout took a drastic turn:

a group of people riding skis on a snowy road: An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland

An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland
© Provided by Daily Mail

Germany announced that both its southern and northern land borders would close from today, while France said it would limit transport within the country - including trains - for the first time.   

For traffic going the other way, France said it would implement tougher checks on people and goods at its frontier with Germany, but insisted this did not represent a border closure. 

Italy, the worst-hit European country, reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections - 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period - for a total of almost 24,747.

'It's not a wave. It's a tsunami,' said Dr. Roberto Rona, who's in charge of intensive care at the Monza hospital.

Italy's transport ministry banned passengers from taking ferries to the island of Sardinia and halted overnight train trips, which many in the north had used to reach homes and families in the south.

a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Vietnamese tourists wearing face masks and wedding clothes pose in front of the Eiffel Tower, closed during the lockdown © Provided by Daily Mail Vietnamese tourists wearing face masks and wedding clothes pose in front of the Eiffel Tower, closed during the lockdown Even as authorities pleaded for people to stay home, Pope Francis visited St. Mary Major Basilica, near Rome's central train station, to pray for the sick, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The pontiff then walked to another church with a crucifix that in 1522 was carried in a procession during a plague afflicting Rome. In his prayer, Francis 'invoked the end of the pandemia that has stricken Italy and the world, implored healing for the many sick, recalled the many victims of these days'.

The Vatican said it would close all Holy Week ceremonies to the public with the start of Palm Sunday on April 5.   

Spain joined Italy on lockdown after the government declared a two-week state of emergency.

'From now, we enter into a new phase,' said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose wife has tested positive. 'We won't hesitate in doing what we need must to beat the virus. We are putting health first.' 

a group of people walking down the street: Metropolitan police officers halt a tourist strolling through Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, during the lockdown

Metropolitan police officers halt a tourist strolling through Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, during the lockdown
© Provided by Daily Mail

In Barcelona, people who ventured out formed long lines to buy bread. Police patrolled parks and told people who were not walking their dogs to go home. The Las Ramblas promenade, a tourist magnet, was eerily empty.

The state of emergency 'is necessary to unify our efforts so we can all go in the same direction,' Mayor Ada Colau said, as Spain's Health Ministry recorded 288 deaths - up from 136 on Saturday.

According to Spanish officials, the number of infections rose from 5,700 to 7,753 overnight. 

Europe is gripped by a collective fit of panic as Covid-19 - the illness caused by the Wuhan coronavirus - rips across the mainland, from Italy and Germany to France and overseas to Ireland and the UK.

Governments have responded to the spread of the deadly bug in draconian fashion, emulating the Chinese response to the virus, after Europe was called the 'epicentre' of the crisis by the WHO. 

Gallery: WHO guidelines for protection against COVID-19 (Photo Services)

In the UK, Boris Johnson is understood to have reviewed the Government's handling of the escalating crisis as shoppers rampaged through supermarkets across the country to stockpile amid fears of Covid-19.

His administration was accused of 'complacency' and 'playing roulette' with people's lives after a gloomy No 10 press briefing on Thursday where the Prime Minister warned of further deaths.

But Mr Johnson has now assembled a designated task force to deal with the coronavirus, involving Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser. 

The Government has prepared emergency legislation which is expected to sail through Parliament next week that will greatly increase the powers of the Executive as it comes under huge public pressure to act.

a castle on top of Schönbrunn Palace: Some people walk next to imperial Schoenbrunn palace in Vienna, Austria, as the country also goes into lockdown

Some people walk next to imperial Schoenbrunn palace in Vienna, Austria, as the country also goes into lockdown
© Provided by Daily Mail

Follow the government's latest travel advice for people travelling back to the UK from affected areas, including whether to self-isolate. Don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and call NHS 111. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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