Europe reached two tragic milestones on Sunday as it recorded 1 million coronavirus cases and reported over 100,000 deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the rising numbers across Europe, there was some cheer as Spain registered a sharp drop in daily deaths on Sunday. Signs that the outbreak could eventually be easing prompted Switzerland, Denmark and Finland to begin reopening shops and schools this week.
Spain’s fatalities fell to 410 from 565 the previous day. The deaths in the third hardest-hit country in the world after the US and Italy has reached 20,453. “It’s a number that gives us hope,” said health ministry emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon of the daily death toll, which is at its lowest in four weeks.
Germany has declared the virus is “under control”, having reported 3,400 deaths, and is beginning the task of lifting some restrictions without triggering a secondary outbreak – with some shops allowed to reopen on Monday, and some children returning to school within weeks.
Parts of Italy began emerging from lockdown, too, with residents in Venice seen to be strolling around the quiet canals.
France has shown signs of a lockdown bearing fruit. The country reported 395 new deaths, the smallest increase in five days, while the number of hospitalised patients also declined.
The British government on Sunday insisted it is not yet safe to ease the lockdown, amid criticism that PM Boris Johnson’s administration didn’t respond quickly enough in the early stages of the outbreak, which may have led to thousands of deaths.
The UK reported 596 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 16,060.
Michael Gove, senior cabinet minister, firmly rejected reports alleging that Johnson did not attend five meetings related to the crisis, and that ministers were slow in responding despite evidence of its seriousness.
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