Europe locks down as WHO calls for boldest actions against pandemic COVID 19

Europe locks down as WHO calls for boldest actions against pandemic COVID 19

European countries moved into near total lockdown on March 17 in a bid to halt the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The World Health Organization called for the "boldest actions" against the pandemic on the continent, the outbreak's new epicentre.

From France to Germany to Spain, millions were confined to their homes as shops and restaurants closed and borders were sealed, while European leaders edged towards banning non-essential travel to the continent.

The draconian measures, never before seen in peacetime, have upended society and roiled financial markets, prompting governments to roll out emergency economic measures as fears mount of a global recession.

The sports world has been hammered too, with the Euro 2020 becoming the latest tournament to be postponed and major doubts lingering over the fate of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting more than 180,000 people and killing over 7,000.

Asian hotspots China and South Korea have seen new infections and deaths level out in recent weeks -- China reported just one new domestic case on Tuesday -- but numbers are ballooning across Europe, with Italy, Spain and France especially hard hit.

Africa, with its fragile healthcare systems, is also seeing a steady rise in cases while the US and Canada imposed their own restrictions.

Across France, all citizens were ordered to remain indoors after President Emmanuel Macron declared a war on the outbreak.