by Darren McCaffrey
Euronews Political Editor
In the coming weeks, our daily special coverage newsletter will be dedicated to bringing you the latest updates from Europe on the coronavirus outbreak.
Taking a toll

Sadly, yesterday the death toll in France surpassed 10,000 as the country announced a record number of daily fatalities from COVID-19.But, the latest deadly spike was perhaps most glaring in the country’s nursing homes – some 820 elderly people have succumbed to the awful disease in recent days.

“The tsunami has entered the building, it’s a disaster” is how one director vividly described what was happening in his care home in the central Loire Valley region, where at least 10 people have died recently and 19 others are presenting symptoms.

It is a horrific story that is being repeated again and again in different cities, regions and countries across Europe.

In Spain, the army found the bodies of dozens of dead – and apparently abandoned – elderly people at retirement homes. Health officials said that in some cases, where the cause of death was suspected to be linked to COVID-19, the deceased residents were left in their beds until properly-equipped funeral staff were available to come to take care of the bodies.

Authorities from the Belgian region of Flanders have reported more than 600 probable deaths among residents of care homes. In recent days, at least 24 people have died in similar institutions in Scotland.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Statistically, the coronavirus is shown to prey mostly on the elderly – death rates are highest among those over the age of 70 – and social distancing is more difficult in nursing homes, not least of all because staff members who live in the local community are having to continue to come into the home to provide care, despite the risks to both them and their residents.

Many of those same carers are now also having to face the twin challenge of a lack of equipment and staff shortages.

And all of this is likely to turn out to be much worse than we currently realise. Numerous countries are, at the moment, only officially announcing daily death tolls from hospitals, not from care homes or the community.

Even among those who are casting the net wider in their reporting of figures, there are limitations. France changed its way of counting yesterday, to include nursing homes in its figures. But the head of its public health authority said that the count was still not complete as some care homes had yet to report their numbers. Many care homes and mortuaries simply don’t have test kits – they are unable to officially identify whether or not someone has died of COVID-19.

In the summer of 2003 a heatwave hit France, killing what initially seemed like dozens of elderly people. Then, it was revised to hundreds of fatalities. It was only months later that statisticians said it was likely to have been closer to 15,000.

Tragically, the same thing is happening again, but on a more frightening scale. And again it is likely to be many months before we get a true sense of the horrors this virus has really inflicted on Europe


JOLT TO JOBS The international Labour Organization’s forecast for the next three months makes for bleak reading: “We are going to lose the equivalent of 195 million jobs around the world,” ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, told Euronews. According to the UN body, the coronavirus crisis is having a devastating impact on employment worldwide and will prove a lot more damaging to the labour market than the global recession ten years ago.SCIENCE CHIEF QUITS The European Union confirmed it has accepted the resignation of the head of its top science organisation. Mauro Ferrari had been the president of the European Research Council for little more than three months. In a statement to the Financial Times, he cited disappointment with the bloc’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and “lost faith in the system itself.” The European Commission has defended its record, saying 18 research and development projects had already been picked at short notice to fight the coronavirus.

“WE’RE ALL IN A WAR” Euronews spoke to Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, about the EU’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and the pressure on healthcare systems. She urged citizens to respect lockdown measures and predicted that life in Europe would go “back to normality gradually.”

MASK DIPLOMACY The coronavirus has led to a reassessment of EU-China relations, which were already strained before the outbreak began. Recent moves by Beijing to provide millions of masks to EU countries have been dubbed “mask diplomacy” and are being seen as a way to keep trade ties alive, especially in the race to win lucrative public contracts in Europe.

FAKE NEWS Numerous copy-pasted posts with false or misleading information about the coronavirus have been circulating on social media platforms over the past weeks. In a bid to curb the spread, WhatsApp has now imposed a limit on how many messages we can forward. Seana Davis explains the new system.

CALL TO ACTION With half of the world’s population living under lockdown measures and forced close-quarter living, cases of domestic abuse have spiked. Specialists and charities aren’t properly equipped to help victims in these conditions, so organisations are calling on citizens to take responsibility and get involved.


The German economy is sliding into its deepest recession on record and will shrink by almost 10 percent in the three months to June. According to the country’s top economic research institutes, that would be double the magnitude recorded in early 2009. Europe’s largest economy is expected to contract overall by 4.2 percent this year, but is expecting to rebound next year, with growth of 5.8 percent.


The challenge of combatting the coronavirus is uniting almost the whole world and the race to find a vaccine is well and truly on. While in the not-so-distant past preventative medication would have taken more than a decade to develop, health crises in recent years have forced science to speed up. “For Ebola, we did it in five years, I know we can accelerate that,” says Seth Berkley, the CEO of the Global Alliance For Vaccines and Immunization.The World Health Organization says there are over 40 potential vaccines. Around 100 are believed to be being developed and, highly unusually, human trials with at least one experimental COVID-19 vaccine have already begun. But, while prevention is being worked on, the scientific community is also grappling with the issue of finding a safe and tested treatment, imminently.

Monica Pinna looks into the short- and long-term solutions to shutting down the COVID-19 pandemic.


Wherever you are in the world, if you looked into the sky last night, you would have seen something really quite special: the biggest and brightest supermoon of the year – a full moon at its closest point to Earth within its elliptic orbit.It was a rare moment for people to feel connected in uncertain times, astronomer and astrophotographer Tom Kerss told us: “When we look at the night sky, we are actually engaging with the natural world. And granted we’re sort of closed off from one another, but when we look at the sky, we’re engaging in a shared experience as well.”

And NASA scientist Noah Petro said anyone can get a good photo of a supermoon: “You don’t need to have super fancy high-tech equipment, just your naked eye,” he remarked, adding even with a camera phone you can take a decent picture of the moon when it’s this size. He’s probably right, but here are some taken by the professionals…


Wuhan let the world know it was out of lockdown with a spectacular light show, a whopping 11 weeks after the restrictions were first imposed.
I’ll be back tomorrow, but in the meantime stay safe, stay at home, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

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