France declares highest national epidemic alert

As the virus spreads across Europe, many countries are stepping up their response. France reported the biggest jump in new cases outside Italy with close to 1,000. The country already declared its highest alert level on Friday. The Netherlands has become the latest European country to impose a lockdown, after its cases hit more than 1,000. Schools, bars and restaurants are now all closed. Germany is also closing schools and nurseries starting this week and imposing border controls with most of its neighbors. And Austria has ordered a ban on gatherings of more than five people.

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In This Story: Austria

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine federated states, one of which is Vienna, Austria’s capital and its largest city.

It is bordered by Germany to the northwest; the Czech Republic to the north; Slovakia to the northeast; Hungary to the east; Slovenia and Italy to the south; and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west.

Austria occupies an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi) and has a population of nearly 9 million people. While German is the country’s official language, many Austrians communicate informally in a variety of Bavarian dialects.

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  • In This Story: France

    France is a republic and the largest Western European nation. Through expansion and colonisation in the 17th and 18th centuries France became a great power and still retains territories around the world. It has a seat on the UN security council and is the world’s fourth most wealthy country with a high standard of living and strong cultural identity.

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  • In This Story: Germany

    Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe. It lies between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south.

    Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor. With over 83 million inhabitants of its 16 constituent states, it is the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Its capital and largest city is Berlin, and its financial centre is Frankfurt; the largest urban area is the Ruhr.

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  • In This Story: Italy

    Italy is a republic in central Europe which forms a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea as well as bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The islands of Sardinia and Sicily form part of the main territory of Italy. Italy is part of the Eurozone, having entered the common currency on 1st January 1999.

    The capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins. Other major cities include Florence, with Renaissance masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “David” and Brunelleschi’s Duomo; Venice, the city of canals; and Milan, Italy’s fashion capital.

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  • In This Story: Netherlands

    The Netherlands, informally Holland, is a country primarily located in Western Europe and partly in the Caribbean, forming the largest constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In Europe, it consists of 12 provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with those countries and the United Kingdom. In the Caribbean, it consists of three special municipalities: the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The country’s official language is Dutch, with West Frisian as a secondary official language in the province of Friesland, and English and Papiamentu as secondary official languages in the Caribbean Netherlands. Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish are recognised regional languages (spoken in the east and southeast respectively), while Sinte Romani and Yiddish are recognised non-territorial languages.

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