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WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic as cases surge

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World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom has declared the COVID-19 virus a pandemic and urged countries across the world to find, isolate, test and treat every case.

“Ready your hospitals, protect and train your health workers,” he told a press conference in Switzerland.

With a staggering 487 new coronavirus cases announced on Wednesday, Spain has now overtaken France in having the second highest number of infections in Europe, behind Italy.

Meanwhile, the next round of post-Brexit trade talks is likely to be shelved over coronavirus, a UK minister said on Wednesday as Germany’s Angela Merkel warned that up to 70% of the German population could be infected with coronavirus.

Michael Gove, who is overseeing the negotiations for Boris Johnson’s government, said he had recevied “indications … that there may be specific public health concerns” over the March 30 talks in London.

It came as British health minister Nadine Dorries tested positive for coronavirus, days after attending the same Downing Street reception as the prime minister, his pregnant fiancee and other senior figures. However, a spokesman said Johnson is not being tested because he is showing ‘no symptoms’.

Merkel said most of the German population could be infected with coronavirus, based on current estimates of the spread and the lack of a vaccine.

However, she appeared to criticise Austria’s decision to ban arrivals from Italy for anyone who isn’t certified free of COVID-19, saying that shutting borders was an “inappropriate response.”

“We should not be trying to isolate ourselves,” she said.

Slovenia has also closed its border with Italy, which France’s President Emmanuel Macron said was “a bad decision.”

In other latest coronavirus developments:

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