Italy saw its death toll for coronavirus surpass 5,400 on Sunday, while the number of fatalities in Spain rose by 30 per cent in its largest single-day increase.

The number of people who have died rose by 651 in Italy — an increase of 13.5 per cent but down on the figure from Saturday, when 793 people died.

The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remained in a critical situation, with 3,456 deaths as of Sunday.

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Meanwhile, Spain’s death toll for Covid-19 rose by nearly 400 in its largest one-day jump to date. 

More than 1,700 people have now died after being diagnosed with coronavirus in Europe’s second worst-hit country, according to the Spanish health ministry. 

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France — whose death toll stood at 562 on Saturday — reported its first known death of a doctor from coronavirus.

Several European countries moved to tighten their restrictions in a bid to combat the spread of the virus, with Germany — where more than 23,000 people have tested positive —​ banning all public gatherings of more than two people unless it is to work on the coronavirus crisis. 

“The danger lies in the direct social interaction,” the North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet said, adding that the federal government and regional states had agreed on the stricter rules.

German chancellor Angela Merkel will also go into quarantine after coming into contact with a doctor who had tested positive for the coronavirus, her spokesman said on Sunday.

Ms Merkel will continue to work from home and will submit to repeated tests over the next few days although it is too soon for a conclusive test on her at the moment.

Ms Merkel received a vaccine against pneumococcus, a pneumonia-causing bacteria,on Friday from a doctor who later tested positive for coronavirus.

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Meanwhile, the Spanish prime minister said he would ask parliament to extend the two-week-long state of emergency to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Pedro Sanchez said his government wanted to prolong restrictions on movement that were introduced on 14 March for 15 more days.

In Greece, a curfew will be imposed on people in the country to try to combat the spread of the virus, while Italy’s government is expected to pass a decree tightening up lockdown measures to close all non-essential businesses. 

However, not all countries moved to increase restrictions. In Bulgaria, the president blocked an emergency law that would have closed schools and restaurants, as well as given the army power to enforce quarantine measures.

Rumen Radev, a former former air force commander, said the strict measures would increase anxiety and a sense of crisis among people already worried about the country’s lack of resources to deal with the virus, adding: “No battle is won through fear”.

Additional reporting by agencies



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