THE number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe has hit half a million – although the actual number of those infected will be higher.
Spain has recorded more than 110,000 cases while Italy has over 105,000 infected while their combined death toll has surpassed 22,000.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The number of official cases in Europe does not include those who have self-isolated at home and have not been tested.
And in many countries it does not factor in pensioners who have been struck down with the bug in care facilities.
Yesterday in France, it emerged that a record 499 people died in 24 hours bringing the death toll in the country to 3,523.
Out of the 22,757 hospitalised with coronavirus in France, a total of 5,565 are being treated in intensive care, health official Jerome Salomon said.
French figures show the country has recorded more than 52,000 cases since the start of the outbreak.
The number of deaths in Germany from the respiratory disease rose by a record 149 on Wednesday bringing the tally to 802 people.
A total of 73,217 have been struck down with COVID-19 in the country.
In the UK, a total of 29,474 people have been officially infected although that number will increase significantly as the country has not yet reached its peak – which is expected sometime in mid-April.
There has also been criticism over the lack of testing in Britain which means the actual number of those who have suffered from the bug, or are currently battling the symptoms, will be much higher.
The virus death toll in the Netherlands has surged by 134 to 1,173 while the number of recorded cases is officially 13,614.
This comes as doctors in Italy have warned a government policy to send discharged patients who are still testing positive to care homes is akin to priming “biological bombs.”
With more than 4,000 people being treated in specialist intensive care units, beds need to be freed up in the country which continued to be ravaged by COVID-19.
A total of 28,000 people are in Italian hospitals with the bug.
However, those unable to self-isolate at home once they are discharged and being moved to care homes or hotels taken over by the government.
Raffaele Antonelli Incalzi, head of Italian geriatric society SIGG, slammed the policy.
He told AFP: “In a war like this, we can’t expose ourselves to the danger of a recurrence of new outbreaks that risk turning care homes into ‘biological bombs’ that spread the virus.”
Meanwhile, scientists have warned that Sweden’s refusal to go into coronavirus lockdown is leading the country towards catastrophe.
Daily life is carrying on as normal despite the rest of Europe being in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with pubs, schools, restaurants and cinemas all still open.
Sweden has so far seen 4,435 cases of the coronavirus and 180 deaths as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government says lockdown would lead to an economic disaster.
And although the Scandinavian country’s relaxed “wait and see” approach flies in the face of all medical guidance it has no immediate plans to change its liberal ways.
The relaxed measures have raised alarm in the country’s medical community.
A petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors, scientists, and professors has now called on the government to get tough and tighten restrictions.
“We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we’ve let the virus loose,” said Prof Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus expert at the Karolinska Institute.
“They are leading us to catastrophe.”