One day this update will be a compendium of good news on the coronavirus outbreak, full of facts and details of a rapidly improving scene across Europe.

Sadly Wednesday is not that day.

For a fifth day in a row more than 800 people have died in Spain, and the infection rate – while improving slightly – remains very high.

And the painful path upwards on the graph that Italy and Spain have both followed is still being tracked almost exactly by both France and the UK.


Spain has announced its highest death toll yet with 864 dying in the last 24 hours, and 7,719 being infected for the first time.

The only thing about five days in a row above 800 deaths is that on none of those days has it gone over 900 – in other words it looks like a plateau and the next substantial change might – just might – be downwards.

The lines on the graph that plot the progress of the virus show Spain doing consistently worse than Italy at a similar stage.


Italy has seen deaths fall but new cases rise slightly since yesterday.

Once again, all the signs of a plateau with no substantial movements over several days. But when it comes to the spread of a virus this is a classic sign of the “curve being flattened”.

Italy has accepted officially now that its lockdown must continue until April 13 at the earliest.


Germany too is bowing to the inevitable and saying that its severe restrictions on gatherings and movement are now being extended until April 19th.


Meanwhile Sweden has taken the most liberal (if that is the right term) view of restricting its citizens of any European country, but even they have now had to accept their ski resorts must close.

These were surely the last resorts in Europe still open.

The prospect of thousands of people flocking there over Easter seems to have been too much.

EU battles over who is going to pay for the coronavirus recovery effort have become less heated and more productive.

There are now two proposals on the table:

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to see a pan-European unemployment reinsurance scheme established worth up to €100bn.

Member states would back the scheme allowing the money to be borrowed. It would aim at keeping people in their jobs or providing income support if that failed.

The Netherlands – who are the strongest opponent of so-called Corona Bonds – is pushing instead for a €10-20bn EU Coronavirus Fund.

Money would be sent, unconditionally, to southern Europe in the form of “solidarity transfers”. It is less money than France had wanted, but is none the less a serious proposal.

Credit: ITV