Coronavirus in Europe: epidemic or ‘infodemic’?

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France must prepare for a coronavirus epidemic, President Emmanuel Macron says, but Italy – the worst-affected country in Europe – says misleading news is creating an “infodemic”.

Mr Macron is due to discuss the crisis with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Naples.

In Italy 528 people are infected and 14 have died, officials say, amid global efforts to stop the virus spreading.

Germany is also facing an epidemic, Health Minister Jens Spahn has said.

Italy registered a 25% surge in coronavirus cases in 24 hours, and the infections remain centred on outbreaks in two northern regions – Lombardy and Veneto. But a few cases have turned up now in southern Italy too.

Thirty-seven people have now recovered in Lombardy, civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told reporters that an “infodemic” of misleading news abroad was damaging Italy’s economy and reputation.

He said all the infections in Italy could be traced back to the two outbreaks in the north, and just 0.1% of towns in Italy were affected.

Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana put himself into self-isolation after a member of his team tested positive. On Facebook he said he and the rest of his team had tested negative so far, but would remain in quarantine for 14 days.

Italy’s tourism association Assoturismo says March accommodation bookings are down by at least €200m (£170m; $219m) because of the virus.

Read more at BBC News

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