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Europe's COVID-19 death toll over 100,000, but worst-affected countries show signs of 'improvement'

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Europe's COVID-19 death toll over 100,000, but worst-affected countries show signs of 'improvement'
Copyright  GLYN KIRK / AFP
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Today Europe's COVID-19 death toll has passed 100,000.

As of Sunday, April 19, the continent has had more than 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to The European Center for Disease Control.

Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom are by far the countries that have reported most deaths.

However, signs of relative improvement came from Italy and Spain today, after they both recorded the lowest daily death toll in about a month.

Furthermore, France keeps seeing its number of patients in intensive care dropping.

Spain on 'the correct path' after lowest daily death toll in nearly a month

Spain has reported its lowest daily death total for confirmed coronavirus victims - 410 - since March 22.

It takes the total to more than 20,400 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Spain also reported 4,218 confirmed new cases, pushing the total to 195,944 - second only to the United States.

Top health official Fernando Simon said the latest data gives Spain hope, adding that it shows ``the rate of contagion has fallen and that the country is on the "correct path.''

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Saturday he will seek a two-week extension of the state of emergency that is set to run out next week, adding that the government will begin to allow children to leave their homes from April 27

JOSE JORDAN / STR / AFP
Healthcare workers wearing face masks observe three-minutes of silence in memory of COVID-19 victims outside La Fe hospital in Valencia on April 19, 2020JOSE JORDAN / STR / AFP

Italy sees lowest number of deaths in a month but fears lack of comprehensive testing

Italy on Sunday registered the lowest number of COVID-19-related deaths in a month, with casualties rising by 433 in the past 24 hours.

That brings the national total to more than 23,600 - still the second-highest in the world after the United States.

The number of positives rose by just over 3,000 to 178,972 - the lowest increase in more than a month.

However, because of an alleged lack of comprehensive testing, health authorities estimate that the number of cases and deaths may have been significantly under-estimated.

Italy was the first western country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, in late February.

While the epidemic curve continues to plateau, authorities have begun discussions on how to ease a nationwide lockdown, which has been extended to May 3.

Pressure on Italian hospitals continues to ease, but by just 26 'beds' on Sunday, with 25,033 people hospitalized and 2,635 in intensive care.

Italian authorities are also busy fighting the scourge of domestic violence. Today, they announced a new feature on the State Police app to report and georeference these abuses quickly.

France allows visits to nursing homes tomorrow amid drop in intensive care numbers

Coronavirus has killed more than 19,700 people in France since the beginning of March, but the number of hospitalized and intensive care patients continues its slow decline, said the director-general of health Jérôme Salomon during a joint press conference with prime minister Edouard Philippe.

From Monday, the country will make an exception to its strict confinement measures to allow families to visit relatives in nursing homes.

Prime minister Philippe warned that the health crisis is not over in the country, but admitted that "the situation is gradually improving", though "slowly".

He added that the economic crisis would be "brutal" and "has only just begun".

"Production has almost stopped, consumption too," he noted.

France's lockdown is due to end on May 11.

Today Paris shut down part of its water system after discovering traces of the virus in water used for cleaning streets and watering public gardens. Authorities said in a statement that Paris' water remains safe.

THIBAULT CAMUS / POOL / AFP
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gives a press conference updating the nation COVID-19, at the Hotel Matignon, in Paris on April 19, 2020THIBAULT CAMUS / POOL / AFP

UK scrambling to source PPE equipment as solitary protest takes place at Downing st

British officials, who reported 888 new hospital deaths from the virus, said they're not ready to ease lockdown measures.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said Britain still needs to develop its testing and contact tracing program, beef up the National Health Service and make sure that infection and death rates have fallen.

He added that pubs and restaurants ``will be among the last to leave the lockdown, which is now in place until May 7.

"``No decision has been made on when we will reopen schools", British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted. "I can reassure schools and parents that they will only reopen when the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to do so."

UK health experts fear that Britain, which has nearly 15,500 confirmed deaths so far, could eventually have the highest virus death toll in Europe.

Today, a British doctor held a lone protest outside Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office to highlight the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the country's medical workers battling the coronavirus outbreak.

British officials are scrambling to source equipment and said a consignment of 84 tons, including 400,000 gowns, is on its way from Turkey.

The equipment was however expected to reach Britain today.

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Doctor Meenal Viz holds a banner as she protests outside Downing St in London over the lack of PPE for health workers. Apr 19, 2020AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth