Germany has reported 95,391 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 3,677 over the past 24 hours, including 1,434 total deaths, the country's disease control agency said Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said current lockdown measures will extend to April 19 and stressed now "is much too early" to relax the government's strict measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Merkel also called upon people to avoid gatherings and outings during the upcoming Easter holiday.
Italian health officials said Sunday that the nationwide quarantine put into place nearly a month ago is starting to show measurable results, as the one-day coronavirus death toll showed its smallest increase in nearly three weeks and the number of hospitalized patients declined.
"We cannot let our guard down, but the trend" is positive, Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection Department, said Sunday. "It is still essential for residents to continue to stay at home and to leave only for the proven needs allowed" under quarantine rules.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the country's first national coronavirus quarantine, the first in Europe, earlier last month. Officially, it is set to expire on April 13, though Borrelli and other ranking officials have speculated it will be further extended far beyond that date.
Conte himself said Sunday that it was "impossible" to predict when the crisis would end in Italy.
Between Saturday and Sunday, the coronavirus death toll in Italy was 525, the lowest one-day total since March 19, when COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, claimed 427 lives.
The country registered its one-day high of 969 fatalities on March 27. The death toll has decreased in five of nine days since then.
Still, the pandemic that claimed its first life in Italy on Feb. 20 has now resulted in 15,887 deaths, more than in any other country based on official figures.
The total number of coronavirus patients in Italian hospitals also declined, slightly: 28,949 are hospitalized with symptoms, 61 fewer than a day earlier, and 3,977 are in intensive care units, down 17 from the previous day.
The total number of recovered individuals rose to 21,815, an increase of 819. That number is smaller than the 1,238 registered as cured in the previous 24-hour period.
The number of active cases in the country climbed to 91,246 on Sunday, up from 88,274 a day earlier. All told, Italy has registered a total of 128,948 cases since the start of the outbreak, up from 124,632 registered Saturday.
Earlier on Sunday, Borrelli announced that domestic production of protective masks had increased to the point that every resident will have access to them within days, a step that will further enhance Italy's battle to contain the pandemic.
On the day, the northern Italian Alpine region of Valle d'Aosta, one of the Italian regions hit least hard by the outbreak with only 576 active cases, became the first Italian region to make the use of protective gloves and masks obligatory for anyone leaving their homes in the region.
According to Italian Minister of Public Administration Fabiana Dadone, Italian civil servants are making a quick shift to working at home during the pandemic. Dadone said nearly three in four public workers still working did their jobs from home last week, compared to around 5 percent prior to the start of the crisis.
A man wielding a knife attacked residents of a French town while they ventured out to shop amid a coronavirus lockdown Saturday, killing two people and wounding eight others, authorities said.
Police later arrested the assailant nearby, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, thanking shopkeepers for their help. Castaner said authorities were studying whether to qualify the attack in the town of Romans-sur-Isere as an act of terrorism.
While more investigating is needed, "it seems that all the risks have been neutralized" because of a quick police intervention, Castaner told reporters at the scene south of the city of Lyon.
Two people were killed and eight injured, he said. French media reported that three were in critical condition.
France's anti-terrorism prosecutor's office told The Associated Press the attack took place at 11 a.m. on a commercial street.
Prosecutors did not identify the suspect. They said he had no identifying documents but claimed to be Sudanese and to have been born in 1987.
The prosecutor's office did not confirm reports that the man had shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is great) as he carried out the attack.
The office said it was evaluating whether the attack was motivated by terrorism, but that it has not launched any formal proceedings to treat it as such.
Some 100 police and 45 firefighters were involved in the operation and securing the area, Castaner said.
Like the rest of France, the town's residents are on coronavirus-linked lockdown. The victims were carrying out their weekend food shopping on the street that has bakeries and grocers, the office said. Two-meter distancing is being encouraged as in the rest of the country.
Media reported that the knifeman first attacked a Romanian resident who had just left his home for his daily walk — slitting his throat in front of his girlfriend and son.
Following that, they reported, the assailant entered a tobacco shop, stabbed the tobacconist and two customers, and then went into the local butcher's shop. He grabbed another knife and attacked a client with the blunt end before entering a supermarket.
Some shoppers took refuge in a nearby bakery.
There have been a number of knife attacks in France in recent months. In January, French police shot and injured a man in Metz who was waving a knife and shouting "Allahu akbar."
Two days earlier, another man was shot dead by police after he stabbed one person fatally and wounded two others in a Paris suburb.
It is unclear whether the suspect in Saturday's attack had psychological problems or any links to extremism. Analysts say some extremist groups see the upheaval from the virus pandemic as an opportunity to win over more supporters.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has proposed a multibillion-euro (dollar) European Union fund to help countries in the 27-nation bloc whose health care systems have been hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday night by Dutch news show Nieuwsuur, Rutte said: "We are, of course, in solidarity with South Europe. There's no doubt about it."
The proposed fund and Rutte's comments follow harsh criticism of the Dutch from southern European nations over the country's opposition to an issuance of joint European debt, known as coronabonds or eurobonds, and comments attributed to Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra about Spain's ability to fund its medical response to the virus.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa last week called the comments "repugnant."
"Hoekstra and I have said we could have communicated in a more subtle way," Rutte told Nieuwsuur.
Now Rutte says the Dutch have "taken the initiative to establish a fund in the form of gifts for countries that are economically weaker to help them with the health care costs of fighting the coronavirus."
He expects the fund to reach 10-20 billion euros if other EU nations agree to it.
However, he also stressed that the Dutch still oppose issuing European debt to help hard-hit economies.
"The Netherlands is against that for very many reasons — it doesn't fit into the euro system," he said. "Another thought that we have is that's what the European emergency fund ... is for."
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said earlier this week he hoped the European Union would put together a cohesive response to the plight of countries like his, whose economy has been crippled by the coronavirus outbreak.
Conte vowed to fight for a "strong and cohesive European response" and called the crisis "an appointment with history. Europe must say if it's ready for this appointment" to effectively deal with social and economic shock wreaked by the pandemic.
Nine leading European university hospitals are warning they will run out of essential medicines needed for COVID-19 patients in intensive care in less than two weeks as they are increasingly crushed by the pandemic.
The European University Hospital Alliance said that without countries cooperating to ensure a steady supply of these drugs, doctors and nurses might no longer be able to provide adequate intensive care for people critically ill with the new coronavirus.
In a statement published this week and sent to national governments, the group said that aside from the need for protective gear and ventilators, "the most urgent need now is for the drugs that are necessary for intensive care patients." They wrote that existing stocks of muscle relaxants, sedatives and painkillers were likely to run out in two days at the hardest-hit hospitals, and in two weeks at others.
Last week, Italy's national pharmaceutical agency issued a formal alarm to regional health authorities that the recent jump in demand for some medicines had depleted supplies. The agency set up a special email address for the regional authorities to report any difficulties finding certain drugs.
The shortage of such critical medicines has led some hospitals to buy alternative drugs or to try giving patients different dosages.
"It is extremely worrying that overworked and often less-experienced nurses and doctors-in-training, drafted to fill the gaps, have to use products and dosages that they are not used to," the group wrote, on behalf of hospitals in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Spain.
A team of experts for the hospitals authority in Paris last week drew up a list of suggested workarounds for emergency units to employ to try to ward off what it identified as a "strong risk" of some sedatives and painkillers running out. The experts said that for each prescription, medics should ask themselves whether a drug is really necessary and if doses can be reduced, as well as consider alternative drugs.
The European hospital alliance noted that some governments had reacted to the shortages by refusing to export drugs elsewhere, and warned this would prevent drugs from reaching hospitals in dire need of the medicines.
"No single country in Europe has the production facilities to provide all the drugs (or protective gear or ventilators) needed," the group wrote, pointing out that some countries had shut their borders to exporting such drugs but not importing them. "Coordinated European action will be of vital importance."
Last week, the World Health Organization said there were "extreme pressures" at all levels of the medical supply chain, from raw materials to production, distribution and delivery.
"The world was not ready for a pandemic (and) we did not have the stockpiles in place," Dr. Mike Ryan, the U.N. health agency's emergencies chief, said.
Ryan said WHO was working with other agencies and negotiating with G20 nations on how to quickly scale up production of essential medical supplies and ensure equitable distribution.