Coronavirus takes over the whole of Europe

First cases confirmed in Bulgaria, Malta and Moldova, northern Italy on lockdown

Pope's Sunday prayer to be livestreamed.

The coronavirus continues to spread through Europe with the first cases reported in Bulgaria, Malta and Moldova during the weekend.

The first four confirmed cases were registered in Bulgaria on Sunday. Two men from the northern city of Pleven and two women from the city of Gabrovo in central Bulgaria tested positive for the coronavirus following widespread testing, said Todor Kantardzhiev, head of the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases. Malta reported its first confirmed coronavirus case on Saturday.The patient is a 12-year-old Italian girl who lives in Malta with her family but was on holiday in Italy until earlier this week. Moldova also announced first confirmed case.

The region of Lombardy and a number of provinces in northern Italy including Venice and Parma will be on lockdown amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Italian PM Giuseppe Conte declared on Sunday. A new decree restricts travel in and out of the northern region of Lombardy, which includes the financial hub Milan, and 14 further provinces as Italy grapples to contain a major coronavirus outbreak. Conte clarified that there "won't be an absolute ban on movement in the interested areas, but people moving will be asked to justify the movement based on specific indications. There will be reduced mobility." The only people allowed to move within, in or out of those areas will be people with "proven business reasons" or that require to be moved for health reasons. The number of people infected in Italy rose to 5,883 on Saturday, a surge of more than 1,000 on the day before, and the death toll reached 233, according to the daily bulletin published by the Civil Protection Agency.

In countries where the virus is already present, the number of cases continued to increase. Poland also confirmed a new case, raising the total number of those infected in the country to six.

In Britain, the Department of Health said the number of cases had increased to 206, up from 163 the day before. Two people in the country have died of the coronavirus.

France has 716 confirmed cases with 11 deaths. The Czech Republic also has 21 people infected, after two more tested positive on Saturday, PM Andrei Babis said.

In Germany, which has almost 800 cases, the issue is expected to dominate a meeting of coalition leaders on Sunday, where politicians are to consider measures to protect the economy, dpa reported. Ahead of the summit, Markus Soeder, the leader of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told dpa the virus must not be allowed to create a second financial crisis.

On Sunday, Pope Francis is to recite the Angelus prayer at a distance from worshippers as the Vatican steps up its efforts to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus.

As of 7 March the ECDC reported 7 264 cases and 213 deaths in the EU/EEA and the UK.

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